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Bend man’s murder trial to proceed despite missing evidence

The Oregonian, The Bulliten,
BYLINE: Associated Press

Bend, OR

2016-03-07_trial proceeds despite missing evidence_01

A judge says missing evidence won’t prevent the trial of a Bend man accused of pushing his girlfriend off a cliff.

The Oregonian reports that 40-year-old Stephen Nichols of Bend has pleaded not guilty to killing 23-year-old Rhonda Casto while they hiked in the Columbia River Gorge in 2009.

Court records say the now-retired lead detective investigating Casto’s death destroyed evidence on his computer, including crime scene and autopsy photos. A judge has now ruled that Nichols’ prosecution can continue without that evidence.

Nichols’ attorney wrote to the Oregon Department of Justice last year, saying it is unfair that Nichols’ life is on the line when crucial evidence is unavailable.

Nichols was arrested last February after returning from China. He had been secretly indicted in April 2014.
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