'The Dog Whisperer' Murder: If Michiel Oakes Loses Legal Appeal, Will He Reveal Accomplice?

Michiel Oakes
Even if he loses his murder-conviction appeal, Michiel Oakes could still end up with a shorter sentence. With a prison release date of 2035 for killing dog trainer Mark Stover, Oakes is hoping for a new trial based on a juror's tweets and other challenges. But if he's turned down, would he seek a shorter term behind bars (he already had a year knocked off his sentence) by trading information on who might have helped him kill the Dog Whisperer?

Police and prosecutors have made it clear in the past they believe Oakes did not act alone. And following Oakes' conviction in 2010, Stover family members offed a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the "identification, arrest, and conviction of accomplices of Michiel Glen Oakes."

Skagit County Sheriff's Detective Dan Luvera tells Seattle Weekly the reward offer produced little in the way of info. "No money was paid out," he says. "We did receive several inquiries and tips but nothing solid that I could work with."

As for those accomplices?

"I can't comment on my own theories about who may or may not have helped Oakes as the case is in the appeal process." Someday, Luvera says, "I hope to tell all the details as I know them and my theories involving this case, but until then I can't comment."

But some of those theories were made evident during the investigation and trial of Oakes. Oakes was arrested, for example, at the home of Linda Opdyke, Stover's ex-wife, where Oakes was seen by officers as he tried to dispose of a gun. She refused to speak to officers about the case.

Stover had earlier told others he was worried about being killed. After he was busted in 2009 for marijuana and a small amount of cocaine, based on an anonymous tip, he hired a private investigator to determine who set him up.

"He told me that he suspected that Linda Opdycke and/or her father were out to get him," investigator Leigh Hearon told CBS' 48 Hours. "He told me he 'would not be surprised if they want to have me killed.'"

But investigators never found any evidence that either Linda or her father, Wally Opdycke, the co-founder of the Ste. Michelle Winery, were involved in the drug plant or that they plotted his murder, CBS noted.

And both have denied any role in the shooting. As we report this week, Linda Opdycke said as much under oath during the trial.

Skagit County senior deputy prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula asked Opdycke if, by testifying for her boyfriend Oakes and helping him establish a self-defense case, that would get her off the hook, too.

"What do you mean by that?" Opdycke asked.

"If a jury were to find that this was self-defense, you wouldn't have any more liability, either," said Kaholokula.

"I have no liability in this case," said Opdycke.

Oakes, 47, has already had his 26-year term shorted by almost 11 months. Court records show that he was given 319 days credit for time severed prior to and during his trial. That credit should have been included in his 2010 sentence, the Skagit court ruled last May.

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