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Jan. 16, 2022

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Man convicted of attempted murder, arson in Vancouver incident

Rick Stone, 44, faces life in prison for crimes at mini-mart

By , Columbian staff writer

A transient man who was convicted Monday of first-degree attempted murder and arson is facing a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the third-strike offenses, according to the prosecution.

The Clark County Superior Court jury returned the guilty verdicts against Rick “Left Handed Wolf” Stone, 44, after four days of trial last week. The jury began deliberating Friday afternoon.

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2. He was previously convicted of first-degree arson and second-degree kidnapping, which the prosecution said were both strike, or “most serious” offenses. The defense is free to argue whether Stone is actually facing a “third strike.”

Shortly after 10 p.m. July 2, 2020, Vancouver police and firefighters responded to a vehicle fire at the St. Johns Mini Mart, 2901 St. Johns Blvd. Upon arrival, a man, identified as Mitchel Kedalo, 63, was found suffering from burns on the left side of his body. He was taken to a burn center in Oregon for treatment, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Police obtained surveillance footage from the mini-mart that showed a man wearing a yellow or green neon-colored jacket, pouring suspected gasoline both on Kedalo, who was seated in his car, and the car and then igniting it. Kedalo got out of the car, but the fire spread. Engulfed in flames, he ran inside the mini-mart where customers helped extinguish him, the affidavit says.

Officers searched the area for the assailant and found the jacket discarded in the road near East 30th and Y streets. The jacket smelled of gasoline and had a company logo on it. Investigators later learned it had been stolen from someone’s work pickup, court records state.

Further investigation found that Kedalo had gotten into a fight with a man and two women about a half-hour before the fire outside the mini-mart. Authorities said they believe the man was Stone and one of the women was his girlfriend. The three left, but Stone returned wearing the neon jacket and carrying what appeared to be a bag spilling liquid, the affidavit says.

Kedalo told investigators the fight started after he asked the trio for a cigarette, and the man threatened him, according to court records. In September 2020, investigators received an anonymous tip that the arson suspect was Stone. The tipster said they learned Stone was angry with Kedalo because he believed he was “hitting on” his girlfriend, the affidavit states.

DNA analysis on the jacket came back as a match to a Rick Kelly, one of Stone’s apparent aliases, and his girlfriend, court records state.

Prosecutor Toby Krauel said he hopes the verdict gives closure to the victim and anyone who witnessed the “amazing event.”

“I believe justice was done, and the truth came out,” Krauel said outside of the courtroom Monday.

Defense attorney Michele Michalek said she was not surprised by the verdict, given the amount of evidence the prosecutor presented.

She expressed sympathy for the victim outside of the courtroom, saying, “He didn’t deserve what he got.”

“(Stone) is happy to have it over with and get onto the next phase,” Michalek said.