James Stidd, accused of killing an Olympia woman whose body was never found, has been found guilty of all charges against him, including second-degree murder.
The jury handed down the verdict Thursday afternoon in a Thurston County Superior Courtroom filled with tearful friends and family of Gail Doyle, the woman Stidd was on trial for killing.
Doyle had been missing for two years and five days. Stidd's trial had lasted five weeks.
In addition to being found guilty on the most serious charge, the jury also found Stidd guilty of four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence.
Stidd was also found guilty of being armed with a deadly weapon, or what was referred to as a "special verdict."
As Judge Carol Murphy read aloud the verdicts, the standing-room-only courtroom remained quiet, except for crying and sobbing.
"I'm happy, but I'm sad because I still don't have my sister back and I don't know if I ever will," said Anita Nedrow of Rainier, who came to court Thursday with a button affixed to her blouse that showed a smiling Gail Doyle. Nedrow also had testified during the trial.
"I'm happy he won't be able to do this to anyone else," she said of Stidd.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson said he was very satisfied and thankful to the jury for their hard work on what was a tough and emotional case.
"I'm glad they were able to come to this decision and find that Mr. Stidd did kill Gail Doyle," he said.
Stidd, a previously convicted felon and a Doyle family friend, reappeared in Doyle's life in May 2016. They were last seen at the Boulevard Tavern in Olympia on June 2, 2016. Stidd claimed to have dropped her off in front of Aztec Lanes on Martin Way that same night.
Stidd was arrested that month in Ritzville, not far from Spokane. A warrant for Stidd’s arrest was issued after detectives found evidence at his Longhorn Loop home, south of the Olympia Regional Airport, linking him to Doyle’s disappearance.
Police found a note hanging on the front door that indicated Stidd had gone on vacation. Inside, officers and crime scene technicians located several bloody areas on the garage floor, according to court documents.
A hammer was found on a work bench in the garage. The head of the hammer tested positive for blood and was wrapped in several blond hairs, according to court documents.
Investigators searched for Doyle's body at an Eastern Washington landfill. Thurston County Sheriff’s Office investigators were confident at the time that Stidd left Doyle’s body at a Thurston County transfer station and that her remains were later transported to the landfill. But her remains were never found.
Deputy Prosecutor Jackson said he believes the most compelling evidence presented during the trial was the forensic analysis of DNA and the blood "found in his house, garage, truck and on his clothes."
"That was very telling," Jackson said.
A sentencing date wasn't immediately announced after the verdict, partly because the jury had more work to do. Jurors began deliberating Thursday afternoon on some aggravating factors in the case: Was Stidd deliberately cruel to the victim, and did he show an egregious lack of remorse?
Jackson and Kevin Griffin, Stidd's defense attorney, argued those points before the jury following the guilty verdict.
Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim, who was in the courtroom for the verdict, said that if the jury finds he was deliberately cruel and showed an egregious lack of remorse, a prison sentence could be imposed beyond the standard range.
Stidd will be held without bail until his next hearing.