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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Murder Conviction, Extra Prison Time Upheld

Appeals were rejected Tuesday in a murder case that attorneys say may have been the first in the state to use the battered-spouse defense in a homosexual relationship.

The Washington Court of Appeals upheld the tougher-than-usual sentence of Spokane resident Ronald A. Hall, 26, who solicited the February 1994 death of his homosexual partner.

The three-judge panel in Spokane also upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Hall’s cousin, Patrick N. Lowden, 25, of Addy, Wash. Lowden shot 33-year-old William Fisher to death at a cabin in northern Stevens County while Hall watched.

The judges unanimously dismissed all of Lowden’s complaints about his May 1994 trial in Stevens County Superior Court. He is serving a 27-year prison sentence.

The appeals court also said Judge Larry Kristianson acted properly when he tacked two years onto the sentence Prosecutor Jerry Wetle recommended for Hall. Wetle’s proposed plea-bargain already exceeded state sentencing guidelines.

Wetle reduced first-degree murder charges against Hall and David D. Dodson, 25, of Colville, in exchange for their testimony against Lowden. Hall and Dodson, who supplied the murder weapon, were allowed to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Wetle recommended six-year terms for both men, but Kristianson sentenced Hall to eight years and Dodson to four.

Hall told authorities he was “tortured” with increasingly severe beatings, bites and psychological torment during his three-year relationship with Fisher. Hall said his cousin, Lowden, convinced him the only solution was to kill Fisher.

Lowden recruited Dodson, who supplied a shotgun, and the three men got Fisher to join them in a camping trip to a remote cabin near the Canadian border. Hall said he watched while Lowden fired two shotgun blasts into the sleeping Fisher.

, DataTimes

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