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News >  Crime/Public Safety

‘This case is different’: Judge rejects plea deal for man already convicted of murder who also killed Spokane Valley girlfriend

UPDATED: Fri., April 30, 2021

It was a tearful day in court Friday as Candy Fealy’s family told the court about the “four years of hell on earth” that came after her then-boyfriend Darrell Cloud beat her so badly she was left paralyzed with a debilitating brain injury.

Cloud, 51, pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month as part of a plea deal that carried a joint recommendation from the prosecution and the defense that he be sentenced to 102 months in prison, the lowest possible end of the sentencing range. But after pointing out Cloud’s apparent lack of remorse, Judge Maryann Moreno handed down the maximum sentence of more than 11 years, noting she’s only rejected plea deals a few times in her career.

Cloud, already a convicted murderer, severely beat Fealy in 2012, causing bleeding on her brain and facial fractures. Fealy was in a coma for a month before she awoke unable to speak.

She died on July 29, 2016. The Spokane County Medical Examiner determined that she died from complications from bleeding on the brain and listed her manner of death as homicide.

Kelly Rickard said Fealy, her sister, always protected her when they were kids, telling her the monsters under her bed weren’t real.

“I know now there are real monsters in the world and they are human ones,” Rickard said.

The day Fealy was admitted to the hospital, Rickard said she was hopeful her sister would make a full recovery, but when she saw her sister’s wounds after surgery, Rickard said she realized the situation was much more serious than they had been led to believe by Cloud.

It took the nurses hours to document all of Fealy’s bruises, some of them partially healed, indicating prior domestic violence, Rickard said.

Cloud had dropped Fealy off at the hospital with her ID in her lap before leaving without speaking to anyone. Prior to that, Fealy had been at the couple’s shared apartment for days with severe injuries, Rickard said.

Fealy was in a coma for weeks before awakening and eventually being released from the hospital. She moved back in with her parents, unable to communicate much, Rickard said.

“Because she was not very communicative, you were left to wonder how much of Candy (Fealy) was left in there,” Rickard said.

Fealy couldn’t remember who Cloud was, much less what he had done to her, Rickard said. She would often ask, “What happened to me?” or “Why am I like this?” only to forget the answer moments later, Rickard said.

It was “four years of hell on earth,” Rickard said. She was “tortured” to death, she added.

“Justice for Candy should be more than a few years in prison,” Rickard said.

Fealy’s youngest daughter, Jessica Rathbun, pushed through tears while giving her victim impact statement.

“My mom was paralyzed for 5 years,” Rathbun said. “She didn’t know who her own daughter was.”

Rathbun was only about 14 when the assault took place, and she recalled how hard it was to realize the man who she thought loved her, Cloud, actually had attacked her mother.

“She would scream at night because she would remember things and not know where they came from,” Rathbun recalled. “I don’t see why we had to go through all of this … and him still get the minimum.”

Through tears, Rathbun asked Moreno to give Cloud the maximum sentence possible, before sitting down and being enveloped in a hug by her older sister, Shaelynn Rathbun.

After Fealy’s family spoke, Cloud’s family was given a turn. His younger sister, Stacy Gullicson, said her brother was a “kind and generous soul” as a child.

She mentioned the sexual abuse he endured starting at age 12.

“He never told the family of the pain, suffering in silence,” she said.

Cloud was convicted of murdering the teacher who allegedly abused him in 1994.

He served nine years in prison for the murder and was later awarded a $250,000 settlement form the Seattle School district for its failure to notice the pattern of abuse against him, according to the Seattle Times.

Defense attorney Colin Charbonneau called Fealy’s death an “undeniable tragedy” before asking Moreno to follow the plea agreement, mentioning “evidentiary issues on both sides” that were taken into account during negotiations.

Cloud was then asked if he had anything to share with the court.

“Everything is so convoluted at this point I don’t really have anything to say,” Cloud said.

Moreno asked again if he was sure.

Cloud then mentioned he would like to correct the family’s impression of what had happened before he took Fealy to the hospital.

“Everything there is not correct,” he said of the Fealy family’s statements.

Moreno began by telling the family she was “really sorry” for their loss before addressing their obvious frustration at the proposed sentence.

“The court process is never satisfying, no matter what the outcome is,” Moreno said. “I’m having a hard time with this one.”

Usually, during plea negotiations, attorneys start in the middle of the sentencing range and then adjust based on the factors of the case.

“This case is different because some of the last memories you have with her are horrifying.” Moreno said. “In my mind, eight years for a life is not enough time.”

The judge mentioned that Cloud had not apologized during his statement or seemed remorseful, and a similar sentiment was carried by his family. Despite only having departed from a plea agreement a few times, Moreno imposed the maximum sentence of 136 months.

After the hearing, Jessica Rathbun said the sentence was “the best outcome” possible, noting Moreno’s words were kind and that she seemed to truly understand the case.

“We were surprised, but we’re thrilled,” Rathbun said.

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