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Jury acquits on kidnapping, is deadlocked on murder in Colby Vodder trial

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 31, 2018

Colby Vodder, in white shirt, is led to court Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 where he is standing trial for the murder of Bret Snow in 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Colby Vodder, in white shirt, is led to court Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 where he is standing trial for the murder of Bret Snow in 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

After two days of deliberations, a jury failed to reach a verdict against Colby Vodder, who was on trial for the 2015 killing of Bret Snow.

Vodder, 28, was the first of four suspects on trial for the 2015 alleged murder of Snow, 32, who is believed to have been beaten to death inside a Newman Lake garage. Neither his body nor a murder weapon were ever found. Alvaro Guajardo, 53; Cheryl Sutton, 38; and Kenneth Stone, 34, face similar charges.

The jury deliberated Tuesday and Wednesday after a weeklong trial that began Oct. 22, returning to the jury box to report they could not reach a unanimous verdict. The presiding juror said they failed to reach a verdict on two murder charges and found him not guilty on a conspiracy to kidnap charge.

The 12-person jury, consisting of nine men and three women, deadlocked seven to five in favor of conviction on first-degree murder, and eight to three in favor of acquittal on second-degree murder, with one undecided.

Vodder was ordered by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary to remain in protective custody on a $1 million bond. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Friday, though attorneys were uncertain Wednesday whether there would be time in the schedule to accommodate another weeklong murder trial before the end of the year.

After the hung-jury announcement, Vodder’s mother expressed disappointment that her son would have to spend more time in jail away from his two young children.

“He’s a good kid,” she said. “He got caught up in drugs. But do I think my son’s a murderer? No.”

Brittney Snow, the alleged victim’s sister, and his mother Lori Rison, were also in attendance Wednesday afternoon. Rison said she was “disappointed” by the jury’s decision. Asked of she would be there every day for a second trial, she answered “absolutely.”

Defense attorney Joe Kuhlman said he “completely understood how the jury came back not guilty” on the kidnapping charge. His defense strategy throughout trial was to point to Sutton and Stone – two people who were renting the home where Snow was last seen, and who sold Snow drugs – as alternative suspects.

“While of course we wanted a not guilty as to all counts, the jury worked diligently on this matter,” he said. “If there is a retrial, we will be ready.”

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