PEND OREILLE COUNTY, Wash. — The trial for one of the men accused of murdering Jason Fox from Newport is nearing the end. This morning, the jury started deliberations.
Riley Hillestad is facing murder charges relating to the death of the 19-year-old, whose body was discovered in the fall of 2020.
The Pend Oreille County jury has several charges to consider in the Riley Hillestad trial. They must decide if he is guilty or not guilty of several charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, unlawful disposal of human remains and tampering with evidence.
In closing arguments today, county prosecutor Dolly Hunt relied heavily on testimony from Matthew Raddatz-Freeman. He is another suspect in the death of Jason Fox.
The prosecutor says Raddatz-Freeman's testimony asserts that Hillestad joined the other four suspects in assaulting Fox, something Hillestad admitted to in his own testimony.
"Matthew Raddatz-Freeman testified that Mr. Hillestad punched Mr. Fox in the face and kicked Mr. Fox in the face," Pend Oreille County Prosecutor Dolly Hunt said. "Riley Hillestad also testified to punching Mr. Fox so hard that it wasn't a sucker punch. He saw it coming."
But, Hillestad's defense attorney Brooke Hagara says Raddatz-Freeman's testimony cannot be trusted.
"So, now you have Mr. Raddatz-Freeman with a really sweet story that he made up almost a year later, prior issues with Mr. Fox, exonerating himself of any responsibility after the point where the argument started," Hagara said.
The prosecutor also argues Hillestad's involvement in Fox's death extends to kidnapping when he prevented Fox from leaving the shop.
"Matt also testified that when Jason went to leave the second time, Riley forced him into the chair, preventing him for leaving the office by punching him in the face," Hunt said.
While the defense admits Hillestad did kick and punch Fox, she says he had no involvement in his death.
"He shouldn't have done what was easy, but that doesn't make him guilty of murder," Hagara said.
The jury will continue deliberations next week.
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