Conviction overturned for man accused of killing Bret Snow; third trial expected

<p><p>The man who already has been tried twice for killing Bret Snow is set to face a third trial after the Washington State Court of Appeals Division III overturned his conviction earlier this year.</p></p><p><p>Colby D. Vodder, 31, appeared in court Monday on charges of first-degree murder, predicated on kidnapping. </p></p><p><p>Prosecutors alleged Vodder helped kill Bret Snow, 32, in a workshop building near Newman Lake with three other people in 2015. Neither Snow’s body nor the murder weapon were ever found. Investigators believe the slaying was drug-related and that Snow may have been beaten to death and dismembered to hide evidence of the killing.</p></p><p><p>Vodder was first tried in 2018, and the jury found him not guilty on a kidnapping conspiracy. The jury was <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/oct/31/jury-cant-reach-agreement-in-colby-vodder-murder-t/” target=”_blank”>unable to reach a unanimous verdict on two murder charges</a>.</p></p><p><p>He was retried and <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jun/10/vodder-guilty-of-murder-in-case-of-bret-snow-killi/” target=”_blank”>found guilty in 2019</a> of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the crime. Shortly after the trial, Vodder appealed the conviction. </p></p><p><p>In June, the appeals court ruled that lead Det. Lyle Johnston was improperly allowed to testify that he believed Vodder was guilty.</p></p><p><p>The issue arose when the defense asked Johnston if he told Vodder’s mother he thought Vodder killed Snow, according to court records. </p></p><p><p>Prosecutors objected that the question was hearsay, but Spokane Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary overruled them. </p></p><p><p> Prosecutors later asked Johnston “Did you believed (Vodder) was guilty of the crime?” </p></p><p><p> Johnston replied “Yes,” according to court records. </p></p><p><p>The appeals court ruled that Johnston’s testimony was improper opinion and should not have been allowed by the court. </p></p><p><p>In order to retry Vodder on the murder charge, he had to appear in court and have his bond reset. He remains in the Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bond.</p></p><p><p>Vodder’s co-defendants, Alvaro Guajardo and Cheryl Sutton, were tried separately and received prison sentences after jury convictions.</p></p><p><p><a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/may/15/second-man-charged-with-homicide-18-months-after-b/” target=”_blank”>Guajardo</a> was sentenced to a 47-year prison sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. He also appealed his conviction, while one count was overturned, and is set to be resentenced <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/may/13/new-washington-state-law-makes-drug-possession-a-m/” target=”_blank”>due to a state supreme court decision invalidating some drug convictions</a>.</p></p><p><p>Sutton was <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/apr/19/spokane-judge-sentences-woman-to-31-years-for-bret/” target=”_blank”>sentenced to 31 years in prison</a>, but is in the middle of serving her federal drug sentence at a facility in Waseca, Minnesota. On appeal, Sutton’s conviction was upheld.</p></p><p><p>Another man involved in the killing, Kenneth Stone, was <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/mar/12/last-of-four-defendants-in-murder-of-bret-snow-sen/” target=”_blank”>sentenced to 22 years in prison</a> after pleading guilty to murder, for which he is serving time concurrent with a 12-year stay in federal prison for drug charges. </p></p>