Clad in his yellow Spokane Jail jumpsuit Friday morning, Christopher Blystone broke into a large smile and vigorously shook hands with his attorney after he was resentenced to 40 years in prison for killing a Halpin’s Pharmacy clerk 36 years ago.
Blystone, 52, has spent his adult life behind bars without the possibility of parole – until Friday. Under the new sentence, Blystone will likely be released from prison later this year.
In June 1986, fueled by cocaine, Blystone kidnapped Steven Foster, 20, who was on his way to deposit “a rather large sum” in checks for the pharmacy, according to a Spokane Daily Chronicle story.
Blystone, who was 18 at the time, drove Foster up to Mica Peak and shot him in the back of the head numerous times.
The young man’s body wasn’t found for 10 days.
In March 1988, Blystone pleaded guilty to aggravated first-degree murder in exchange for the dismissal of the other charges against him and a recommendation that he be sentenced to life in prison rather than receive the death penalty. Richard L. Ring, then 19, also was convicted as an accomplice to the abduction and killing, and received a 26-year prison sentence.
Earlier this year, Blystone successfully motioned to be resentenced under State v. Monschke, a 2021 Washington State Supreme Court ruling that overturned the automatic life-without-parole sentences for young adult offenders who, while legally adults, may not have fully developed brains.
In his sentencing brief, Deputy Prosecutor Thomas Treppiedi argued that Blystone’s youthfulness was already considered when he was initially sentenced, and therefore Blystone should continue serving his sentence.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge Harold D. Clarke III ruled that while Blystone’s age was mentioned at his original sentencing, his youthfulness and subsequent decision -making skills were not fully considered.
Blystone’s public defender, Kyle Zeller, argued that Blystone has been rehabilitated during his 35 years in prison.
“Mr. Blystone has renounced the chaotic way of life that played such a large role in his choices and actions,” the sentencing brief reads. “He dedicates his life to Steven (Foster), in the only way he knows how, vowing to never hurt another person again ….”
Clarke handed down a sentence of 40 years.
With credit for good behavior, Blystone’s new sentence can be reduced by 10%, Zeller said after the hearing. With that reduction, Blystone will be required to serve 36 years, meaning he has already served the majority of that time and could be released in about two months.
The final determination of how much credit for time served and good time Blystone will receive has yet to be completed by the Department of Corrections.
After his release, Blystone will be on probation for three years.