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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Merritt sentenced to nearly 30 years for murder of Jason Fox near Newport

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 18, 2022

Jason Fox was killed on the outskirts of Newport. One of four suspects in his killing was sentenced Friday.  (courtesy)
Jason Fox was killed on the outskirts of Newport. One of four suspects in his killing was sentenced Friday. (courtesy)

Claude Merritt was sentenced to 28 years in prison Friday in Pend Oreille County Superior Court for the kidnapping and murder of Jason Fox in 2020, local media reported.

On Oct. 4, 2020, authorities found Fox, 19, with his hands bound behind his back in a shallow grave on the grounds of a riverfront wedding venue outside of Newport.

Three other people, Matthew Raddatz-Freeman, Riley Hillestad and Sean Bellah, were also arrested in connection to Fox’s death, KREM 2 News reported last month. The status of their cases was unclear Friday.

KHQ reported that Merritt had been found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence and failing to notify the coroner. He was found not guilty, however, of unlawful disposal of human remains.

He faced up to life in prison. The sentence handed down Friday will include time served. Merritt and the other suspects were arrested in November 2020.

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