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

Man who shot, killed friend in Stevens County sentenced to 22 years in prison

A 46-year-old man was sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison for shooting his friend in the head two years ago near Waitts Lake in Stevens County.

Ryan F. Gilliard pleaded guilty Jan. 24 to second-degree murder in the killing of 37-year-old Christopher Bell, according to court documents.

On Feb. 2, 2021, Gilliard called 911 to report the shooting at his home, 33624 Waitts Lake Road, documents say. Authorities detained Gilliard when they arrived, while Bell was flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he died.

Gilliard told police he knew Bell for several years and they reconnected after running into each other at the Chewelah Casino. Bell and a woman named Melissa Smith came over to Gilliard’s house the day of the shooting when Bell “assaulted” Smith, according to Gilliard.

Smith told police Bell yelled at her but never physically assaulted her. Smith said she and the two old friends used illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, that day.

Gilliard told police he confronted Bell about his behavior multiple times before Bell pulled out a “very large knife,” court records say. Smith told police Bell never threatened anyone with the knife, but that he did have a knife on him.

Later, Gilliard said he retrieved a rifle and confronted Bell, who was then in a car, according to documents. Gilliard said Bell threatened him with the knife again, and that’s when Gilliard shot him. Gilliard said he only wanted to scare Bell, not kill him.

Stevens County Superior Court Judge Patrick Monasmith sentenced Gilliard to 260 months in prison and three years of community custody when he is released.