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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane jury makes first conviction in 2015 disappearance of Bret Snow

The trial of Cheryl Sutton, one of Bret Snow's alleged murderers, began Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Spokane. Snow has been missing since December 2015. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A Spokane County jury delivered a guilty verdict on Friday in the presumed murder of Bret Snow – the first conviction since he went missing in late 2015.

“We’re just relieved that we have one convicted,” said Snow’s mother, Lori Rison, after the verdict. “We’re just waiting to hopefully convict the others.”

Cheryl Sutton, 39, was the first of four defendants charged in the alleged kidnapping and murder of Snow at Sutton’s Newman Lake home at 7822 N. Starr Road. Her co-defendant Colby Vodder was tried for the same crime in October, however a jury acquitted him of kidnapping but could not come to a decision on murder. He’s scheduled for a retrial in June.

Other defendants in the case are Ken Stone, Sutton’s longtime boyfriend and housemate at the property, and 53-year-old Alvaro Guajardo, who’s scheduled to go to trial in June. Attorneys earlier this month disclosed new DNA evidence found on a mattress that further linked Guajardo to the scene. The state’s prevailing theory is that Snow was killed and butchered in a garage at Sutton’s and Stone’s property in December 2015.

The murder charge stemmed from an investigation by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which relied primarily on the interviews of dozens of witnesses. Many of them say Vodder and Guajardo admitted to killing Snow and hiding his body after Snow botched a drug deal and accepted a trade instead of cash. The deal angered Sutton and Stone, according to prosecutors, who allege they instructed Vodder and Guajardo to kill Snow.

Sutton’s trial lasted several days, beginning Monday, when attorneys delivered opening arguments. Several of the state’s witnesses included the same people who testified in Vodder’s case. They included detectives, forensic experts, friends and fellow drug users.

One of the only witnesses called on the side of the defense was Sutton, who testified Wednesday. Closing arguments were delivered Thursday, and the jury was handed the case later that afternoon. They deliberated for about three hours before returning the guilty verdict Friday morning.

A special verdict form asking whether Sutton used a deadly weapon, however, came up negative. Deputy prosecutor Dale Nagy argued in both Sutton’s and Vodder’s trials that the murder weapon was a 2-foot-long instrument made of metal, though it was never located.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 29. Sutton already is serving time on a federal drug conviction resulting from a raid by law enforcement on the Newman Lake home.

In addition to first-degree murder, jurors also found Sutton guilty of leading an organized crime ring. According to her felony history and offender score, Sutton could expect anywhere from about 24 to 30 years in prison.