Prosecutors say Gary Isaacs, an ex-convict from Everett, is a cold-blooded killer, a man who willingly gunned down the owner of a Selah...

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Prosecutors say Gary Isaacs, an ex-convict from Everett, is a cold-blooded killer, a man who willingly gunned down the owner of a Selah restaurant and bar almost 32 years ago as part of a plot to take over the business.

Defense attorneys maintain there’s no evidence linking the 56-year-old Isaacs to the death of Everett “Fritz” Fretland, who was found Sept. 6, 1975, in the Wagon Wheel restaurant with five bullet wounds to the back.

“The scene was not processed appropriately, and the evidence does not point to my client,” Mark Mestel, Isaacs’ attorney, said Wednesday.

The trial, which opened Tuesday, stems from the work of a task force of FBI agents, Seattle police and Yakima and King County sheriff’s deputies. The task force reopened the case last year as part of an investigation of unsolved 1970s killings that may have involved turf battles between nightclub and bar operators in King and Yakima counties, including longtime Seattle strip-club figure Frank Colacurcio Sr. Prosecutors, however, say the Selah case was not linked to Colacurcio.

Because Seattle law enforcement headed up the task-force investigation, the case is being tried by King County prosecutors, although the trial remains in Yakima County.

King County deputy prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said Fretland’s death was part of a plot by one of his former employees, bartender Richard “Dick” Sanders, who paid Isaacs to shoot Fretland so he could take over his business.

“Dick wanted Fretland dead because he got greedy,” Carlstrom said. “This was cold-blooded murder.”

Isaacs was arrested for the slaying last year, three years after being released from prison where he served 25 years for the unrelated murder of his brother-in-law in 1977.

According to court documents, employees of the Wagon Wheel last saw Fretland when they left work at about 2:30 a.m. on the morning of the slaying.

Fretland stayed behind after someone named “Gary” called the bar and the two agreed to meet in 20 minutes.

His body was discovered later that morning by Arlene Helms who, with her husband, owned a hardware store across the street.

On Wednesday, she testified how she had gone to the restaurant that morning for a cup of coffee and found a man sprawled on the floor.

She returned to her store and phoned the restaurant to report a man “passed out” in the back.

Moments later she heard someone exclaim on the other end of the phone line: “My God, it’s Fritz and he’s dead.”

According to court documents, Sanders told Isaacs he would be paid $30,000 for the slaying, with money left in a sack under the Wagon Wheel bar. It’s unclear whether Isaacs was actually paid.

Sanders died in 1989 in an unrelated killing in Clark County.

The prosecution lists 24 potential witnesses who could be called to testify, including 11 current and former law-enforcement agents, some of whom worked the original case in 1975.