Colby Vodder isn’t shy about his drug use. Or his drug dealings.
With each question asked by his attorney Joe Kuhlman, he’d lean forward from the witness chair and speak clearly into the microphone during his murder trial. With some regret, he told the jury how he’d stay up for days while high on meth. Or how hard it could be to wake him after a particular week-long drug-fueled bender. Or how he would sell meth - sometimes to single mothers.
But when it came to the accusations of kidnap and murder, specifically his alleged involvement in the beating and dismembering of 32-year-old Bret Snow at a Newman Lake garage in early December 2015, he was steadfast: he had nothing to do with it.
“Are you a murderer?” his attorney asked plainly.
“No,” he replied.
For more than an hour Monday afternoon, Vodder testified in his own defense. The 28-year-old is the first of four suspects to be tried for kidnapping and killing Snow.
Cheryl Sutton, 38, Kenneth Stone, 34, and Alvaro Guajardo, 53, also have been charged, though Stone testified last weekthat he was promised a deal if his testimony against Vodder led to a conviction.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Vodder refuted basically every point the prosecution has made against him. He said not only was he not present at the home on North Starr Road where Sutton and Stone lived and operated a drug business,but he also didn’t know Snow.
During trial, attorneys talked to several witnesses, some of whom had significantly changed their stories from when they first talked to Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives in the months following Snow’s disappearance. Stone, who was charged in August with Snow’s murder and was offered a deal last month to testify, said he saw Vodder in the workshop where Snow was allegedly tied up and then beaten with a metal object.
He said he also saw Vodder backing his truck up to the building, and then leaving with Snow’s body in the back, stuffed inside orphanage buckets. Snow’s body has not been found. Neither has a murder weapon.
Later in his testimony, however, he said it was Guajardo driving the truck.
Corroborating this timeline were cellphone records, which placed Vodder’s phone at the Starr Road address around the time of the alleged killing. They showed his phone leaving his Post Falls home on Dec. 4, going to Sutton’s and Stone’s, then returning hours later. His phone also made or received several phone calls and texts from his mother and friends.
Yet, he didn’t deny his phone was where it was, or that people could have been trying to reach him. Instead, he testified that as he slept soundly in his home, Sutton and Stone, who he bought and sold drugs for, borrowed the vehicle without his permission.
“What personal items were in the vehicle?” Kuhlman asked.
“I had forgotten my cellphone,” he said.
In their cross examination, the state grilled Vodder on his testimony, saying it completely contradicted other witnesses who said the defendant bragged about the murder.
The defense rested after Vodder’s testimony. After delivering closing arguments, the jury was handed the case and began deliberations. They’re expected to review the case until at least Tuesday.
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