Friday, October 15, 2021
Oct. 15, 2021

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Camas man gets 18 years for 2019 killing of neighbor

By , Columbian staff writer

A Camas man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday for fatally shooting his neighbor in the head and dumping his body in the Washougal River in 2019.

Randy Schmidt, 51, pleaded guilty Aug. 10 in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree murder in the slaying of 52-year-old Michael Chad Holmes, who went by Chad.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith told Judge Gregory Gonzales that Schmidt picked up Holmes from his house Feb. 5, 2019, with plans to buy a large shipping container from him. Holmes wasn’t seen again, and his body was found two months later in the river.

Several members of Holmes’ family spoke before Gonzales ordered the 220-month sentence — with a deadly weapon enhancement — including the victim’s children, wife, sister and aunt. A letter from Holmes’ youngest child, 11-year-old Aidan, read aloud in court stated that after his dad died, “I had to go to the doctor because my heart hurt so bad.”

Schmidt’s defense attorney, Sohaye Lee, noted that Schmidt has no prior criminal history and called the killing “out of character.”

“It’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” she said.

Schmidt apologized to Holmes’ family before he was sentenced.

“I stand before you a ruined man,” he said.

Gonzales’ sentence was above the state’s recommendation of 195 months.

“You have no care for human life,” the judge said to Schmidt. “You caused harm to more than Mr. Holmes. You caused harm to his entire family.”

Smith, the prosecutor, described the way Schmidt lied to police and attempted to conceal that he killed Holmes.

She said Schmidt went back to Holmes’ house later in the day and told his daughter that Holmes took the money from him and got out of Schmidt’s car on the side of the road. Schmidt was wearing different clothing and driving a different car from when he picked up Holmes, Smith said.

Schmidt repeatedly texted Holmes’ phone asking where he went so his story of dropping off Holmes appeared believable, according to the prosecutor.

Smith said Schmidt attempted to play the good neighbor, offering to give Holmes’ daughter a ride to search for her dad over the two months he was considered missing. The prosecutor said Schmidt even called the non-emergency police line to report Holmes missing.

Investigators later recovered the GMC Yukon that Schmidt was driving with Holmes from the Lewis River. They found Holmes’ DNA on the passenger’s seat.

Smith said Schmidt still hasn’t taken responsibility for killing Holmes, despite pleading guilty to murder. At one point, he claimed self-defense and said that his shotgun fired after Holmes pointed it at him and he pushed it away.