Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Last of four defendants in murder of Bret Snow sentenced to 22 years in prison

Photos of Bret R. Snow, 32, is believed to have been beaten to death at a home in Newman Lake in December 2015, and four people have been sentenced to prison in connection with his death.  (Spokane County Sheriff’s Office)

A 36-year-old man received a 22-year prison sentence this week after pleading guilty to murder following the December 2015 disappearance of a Spokane Valley man.

Kenneth L. Stone is the last of four people to receive prison time for his role in the death of Bret Snow, whose remains have not been found. Investigators believe the killing was drug-related, and that Snow may have been beaten to death and dismembered to hide evidence in the slaying.

Stone will begin his sentence at the same time as he serves a 12-year stay in federal prison tied to drug charges. Both the prosecution and defense agreed to the concurrent sentence, per the terms of a plea deal submitted in court. State law allows the court to decide whether to impose concurrent or consecutive sentences based on the elements of two crimes.

The sentence for the second-degree murder charge in Snow’s death was handed down Tuesday by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary.

Family members reported Snow missing in mid-December 2015, two weeks after the last active ping of his cellphone near a home off Starr Road in Newman Lake that had been searched that summer for evidence of drug dealing. Stone and Cheryl L. Sutton, 41, were indicted in August 2016 on federal methamphetamine distribution and firearm charges.

At the same time, investigators were questioning witnesses and acquaintances of Stone, Sutton and Snow, according to court records. Two other men, Alvaro Guajardo, 56, and Colby Vodder, 30, were also mentioned as having participated in the beating death, which the witnesses said occurred after Snow had either made a bad drug deal or lost drugs belonging to Vodder.

A forensic search of the garage at the home on Starr Road, which was sold to new owners in 2016, revealed Snow’s DNA.

After the four were arrested, a witness came forward and said that Snow had been kidnapped and beaten for several days at the home, and that the four had killed Snow when it became clear he would die of his injuries.

Guajardo, Vodder and Sutton were all tried separately and received prison sentences after being found guilty by juries. Guajardo is serving a 47-year prison sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Vodder is serving a 29-year sentence at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. Sutton was sentenced to 31 years in prison, but is in the middle of serving her federal drug sentence at a facility in Waseca, Minnesota.

All three have appealed their convictions to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division 3. Arguments in Guajardo and Vodder’s cases are scheduled to be heard at the end of April. Sutton’s appeal will be considered by the judges without oral argument on the same day.

Stone testified at Vodder’s first trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury. Prosecutors later said Stone lied on the stand during that trial and revoked an oral plea agreement. Stone was scheduled to stand trial on a murder charge earlier this year, but took a plea deal in February.

Stone is listed in custody of the Spokane County Jail.