Defendant to testify about WA dog trainer death

Published October 11, 2010

| Associated Press

A security expert charged with murdering a dog trainer whose clients included some of Seattle's most famous residents is claiming self-defense — and he's expected to describe the killing in his own words when he takes the witness stand Tuesday.

Prosecutors rested their case Monday against Michiel Oakes, a 43-year-old security expert from Kennewick in south-central Washington. He's accused of killing Theodore Mark Stover, his girlfriend's ex-husband, a year ago; Stover's body still hasn't turned up.

"Michiel has never pointed a firearm at any other human being ... until the morning of Oct. 28, 2009 — and then he did it only in self-defense," attorney Corbin Volluz told jurors in his opening statement.

Stover's clients included members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, moviemaker Cameron Crowe, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Stover disappeared from his home near Anacortes, where authorities found a bathroom that reeked of bleach and smears of blood in a downstairs hallway. His protection dog, Dingo, had been shot three times but survived.

Shell casings from one of Oakes' guns were found at the scene. Authorities said a woman saw him moving what appeared to be a body wrapped in plastic between his car and Stover's. And a few hours before Stover vanished, Oakes is seen on security video purchasing ankle weights and anchor chain at a nearby Walmart.

Volluz didn't finish his opening statement or explain details of the killing before court adjourned Monday. But he thoroughly described the paralyzing fear he said Oakes' girlfriend, Linda Opdycke, felt toward Stover.

Opdycke and Stover were together from 1990 until they separated in 2006. In the early 1990s, they opened a kennel and dog-training facility on an island her family owned north of Seattle. Opdycke's father is a wealthy Washington businessman who founded Chateau Ste. Michelle, the state's biggest winery.

The animals were offered a raw-meat diet, massage and weight-loss programs. Soundgarden and Audioslave singer Chris Cornell once told Spin magazine, "People should have it so good."

Opdycke and Stover's divorce was contentious, marked by Stover's insistent calls and repeated, uninvited visits to Opdycke's home in Winthrop, a three-hour drive over the Cascade Mountains from Stover's home in Skagit County, Volluz said. Stover left angry voicemails, even after Opdycke and her lawyer demanded that he stop calling her.

One night in August 2007, Opdycke woke up to find that Stover had broken into her house and was kneeling beside her bed with a gun, weeping and talking of suicide, Volluz said. Another time he broke in and stole her diary, then later left pages of it in an envelope at the bottom of her driveway, he said.

Stover pleaded guilty to stalking in late 2008 after a neighbor caught him stealing Opdycke's garbage. From then on, Opdycke never heard from him — a development Volluz described as Stover "going dark," though Stover's friends say he had simply moved on.

Stover was engaged to another woman when he disappeared.

Oakes is expected to testify Tuesday morning. Defense lawyers planned to call Opdycke next.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/10/11/defendant-testify-wa-dog-trainer-death/