It took a Yakima jury a little more than two hours to convict a former Everett man Thursday in a 31-year-old murder case. Jurors found Gary Isaacs...
YAKIMA — It took a Yakima jury a little more than two hours to convict a former Everett man Thursday in a 31-year-old murder case.
Jurors found Gary Isaacs, 57, guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Everett “Fritz” Fretland, whose body was found in his Selah restaurant in September 1975.
Unsolved for decades, the case was reopened by the FBI, Seattle police and King and Yakima County investigators looking into bar and nightclub turf wars with possible links to organized crime.
Ultimately, the case was not tied to organized crime. But prosecutors said it was still a cold-blooded killing that left Fretland face down on the floor with five gunshots to the back.
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The murder also left Fretland’s then-2-year-old son never really knowing his father, only that someone had gotten away with killing him. Until now.
“Christmas came early,” said Gunnar Fretland, now 34, who pumped his fists quietly after the verdict was read. “This is a dream coming true.”
During the eight-day trial several witnesses testified they heard Isaacs say he was involved in the shooting.
Among them was Mary Hughes, who said she overheard Isaacs plotting with her former husband to kill Fretland and make it look like a robbery.
Hughes said she kept silent for decades out of fear and only spoke to investigators last year because she thought everyone involved in the case was dead. Her ex-husband died in an unrelated killing in 1989.
King County Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said Hughes was key to the case. Because Seattle law enforcement headed up the task-force investigation, the case was tried by King County prosecutors, although the trial was held in Yakima.
Isaacs’ attorney Mark Mestel repeatedly attacked Hughes’ credibility during the trial, citing both the passage of time and what he called her heavy drug use years ago.
“There is nothing that woman said that you should have any faith in,” Mestel said. After the verdict was read Isaacs turned to Mestel and said: “You did good,” before being led away in handcuffs.
Carlstrom said Isaacs could face 25 years to life in prison. This is Isaacs’ second murder conviction. He served 25 years for the unrelated murder of his former brother-in-law in 1977.