DNA evidence links man to 2011 homicide, prosecutors say

Vancouver woman was fatally beaten in June 2011




Prosecutors say DNA evidence from an aluminum baseball bat found next to a Vancouver woman’s body in 2011 has linked a convicted felon to the slaying.

A first-degree murder charge was filed against Mitchell O’Brien, 33, who is currently serving a prison sentence at Stafford Creek Corrections Center for first-degree robbery.

Transported to Clark County, O’Brien made his first appearance Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court. Judge Diane Woolard set bail at $1 million.

Deneace McSpadden, 57, was found beaten to death June 27, 2011, in the living room of her duplex at 1006 S.E. Morgan Road, off Middle Way and just north of state Highway 14.

Police actively chased leads but had never publicly identified a suspect.

According to court documents, investigators seized evidence from a bloody bat found next to McSpadden’s body and sent the evidence to a state crime lab; evidence from the grip of the bat showed a match with O’Brien.

Investigators questioned O’Brien, a friend of McSpadden’s, about the DNA evidence. He said he had given McSpadden the bat as a present in March 2011, and that’s why his DNA was on it, according to court documents.

However, McSpadden’s boyfriend said O’Brien’s story wasn’t true and that the couple had owned that bat since 2010.

In addition, court documents state that investigators obtained a skateboard belonging to O’Brien to compare the DNA profiles of the bat and the skateboard; both had the same DNA profile, according to lab results returned last month.

O’Brien is serving a 41-month sentence in connection to a robbery that happened four days after the homicide. He held up a Chase bank at 7411 N.E. 117th Ave. on July 1 by presenting a demand note to a bank teller, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced Sept. 7, 2011.

He will be arraigned on the murder charge Oct. 10.

Laura McVicker: http://www.twitter.com/col_courts; http://www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.