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Ryser found guilty of vehicular homicide in 2020 death of cyclist

Jonathan Ryser has been found guilty in the death of Kerry Wiltzius, a well-known triathlete. The jury reached a verdict after only a few hours of deliberations.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The man police believe ran over a cyclist with a tow truck and ultimately killed her was found guilty of vehicular homicide on Wednesday afternoon.

Jonathan Ryser has been found guilty of the death of Kerry Wiltzius, a well-known triathlete. The jury reached a verdict after only a few hours of deliberations.

Wiltzius went on an early morning bike ride on State Route 206 in June 2020. During her ride, she was struck by a tow truck, thrown off the bike and onto the side of the road. She died a few days later due to brain injuries caused by the incident.

Court documents said no alcohol was detected in Ryser's blood. However, drug results showed he tested positive for meth and "presumptive positive" for THC. Ryser later admitted to smoking marijuana the night before the incident.

Jurors heard from two final defense witnesses Tuesday morning, including Ryser himself, before starting deliberations late in the afternoon.

Ryser testified about the morning when he hit Wiltzius, stating he had been called in early that morning on a tow truck job and admitted he took a pill in the hours before the fatal collision.

"Just a pick-me-up," he said. "Anticipating Fridays for me were really, really busy, so just an energy pill type thing."

That pick-me-up was likely meth, according to prosecutors, who say Ryser had the drug in his system. Ryser testified he bought the pills from another driver, assuming they were an illegal drug.

Prosecutor Joseph Edwards told jurors Ryser was not only impaired but acted recklessly.

Ryser's defense attorney, Steve Graham, said under Washington law, just taking meth and driving isn't enough for a conviction. Graham argued even troopers on the scene did not believe he was impaired and that Ryser passed field sobriety tests.

Wiltzius' family spoke with KREM 2 following the verdict and said they know feel they can breathe a sigh of relief.

"Our minds can focus on other stuff now and now we can start processing a little more and grieving a little more," her family said.

Ryser was not in custody during the trial, but following this conviction, he will now be in Spokane County Jail until his sentencing on April 21.

According to prosecutors, Ryser could face as much as nine years in prison.

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