The cause of death of former Washington State Trooper Ronda Reynolds will be decided by a coroner's inquest, Lewis County's newly elected Coroner Warren McLeod has decided.

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The cause of death of former Washington State Trooper Ronda Reynolds will be decided by a coroner’s inquest, Lewis County’s newly elected Coroner Warren McLeod has decided.

McLeod initially planned to review the controversial case — which in 1998 was ruled a suicide — but decided to keep the process as open as possible and not make it appear there were any “politics involved.” He decided to appoint Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel to preside over the inquest.

“I don’t want there to be any perception about politics,” McLeod said. “Dan has got the experience and will be able to sit and preside over it, set the policies and procedures for how it will run.”

While the date hasn’t been set yet, the inquest will be held in another county, McLeod said, because he fears the Lewis County jury pool might have been tainted by 12 years of publicity about the case.

Recently, the case was the subject of an Ann Rule book, “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth.”

Reynolds was found shot in the head in her closet at her home in Toledo, Lewis County, on the morning she was going to leave her husband, Ron Reynolds, to whom she had been married less than a year.

Barb Thompson, her mother, spent years — and many legal steps — arguing that Reynolds didn’t kill herself. On Nov. 10, 2009, a Thurston County Superior Court jury agreed with her and ruled the then-Lewis County coroner, Terry Wilson, made a mistake in ruling the death a suicide. The judge ordered the cause of death to be changed.

Notice of the inquest came as a surprise to Thompson. “I’m hoping it will be a good thing,” Thompson said. “But I think it will be a complete repeat of the same thing we did at the judicial review.”

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or nbartley@seattletimes.com