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

Jury convicts man of killing 83-year-old Deer Park man at his home

Gary Ault, seen here Jan. 11, 2023, for his initial court appearance, was convicted Friday of killing 83-year-old Richard Purdy Dec. 26, 2022, at Purdy's Deer Park home.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)
By Alexandra Duggan and Garrett Cabeza The Spokesman-Review

The courtroom was quiet and Gary Ault was emotionless Friday when the room learned a jury convicted him of killing an 83-year-old Deer Park man in 2022.

Richard Purdy was found dead by his longtime girlfriend on Dec. 26, 2022, in his home, 29410 N. Dalton Road, after he never made it to her house for dinner.

Spokane County deputy prosecutor Dale Nagy said Ault, 38, used electrical cords from Christmas lights to break into Purdy’s home and stab him more than 28 times. He sustained blunt-force trauma to his head and also suffered a brain hemorrhage, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Detective Scott Bonney in a probable cause affidavit noted evidence of forced entry into Purdy’s home, including a large broken window near the front door.

Bonney said the home was ransacked. Multiple firearms were removed from Purdy’s open gun safe and a separate rifle cabinet, and left in a hallway near Purdy’s office and in his pickup truck.

Nagy said detectives found a knife buried in the snow outside the home. Blood was on the blade of the knife, and the size and shape of the knife was consistent with the size and shape of Purdy’s stab wounds, court documents say. The DNA found on the knife’s handle came back as a match to Ault.

The state lab found DNA under Purdy’s fingernails was also a match to Ault, Nagy told the jury in closing arguments Friday.

Ault and Purdy did not know each other.

Following the homicide, Ault drove a rental car to the Best Western on Newport Highway and buried a gun in the snow, which employees saw. The interaction was further corroborated by security footage from the hotel.

The gun hidden in the snow also had Ault’s DNA on it.

Ault’s defense team told the jury Friday it’s important the prosecution proved every crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Spokane County Public Defender Michelle Hess claimed detectives only photographed the homicide scene after exiting and entering the home twice. She also said “there was a foot of snow with freezing rain,” so forensics personnel were trying not to lose evidence in the weather.

Some security footage of Ault coming and going from the motel he was staying in that night was also never turned over as evidence, she said.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Rachelle Anderson read the verdict, which found Ault guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree murder, firearm theft and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Closing arguments ended late Friday morning and the jury reached a verdict at about 2:30 p.m.

Many of Purdy’s loved ones watched the trial, which started Monday.

Ault, wearing a white dress shirt and light blue tie, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. May 8.

Ault also faces several assault charges for unrelated Spokane incidents days prior to the murder.

Ault is accused of walking up to two women, spraying them with bear spray and then kicking them in the head before walking off Dec. 17, 2022, in downtown Spokane, according to documents.

On Dec. 20, police allege Ault punched and hit a man with a hammer in a north Spokane Target bathroom.

He is scheduled for trial in June for the alleged attacks.