Jury finds Oakes guilty in celebrity dog trainer's death




Posted on October 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 22 at 7:54 PM

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- A Skagit County Superior Court jury has convicted a security expert of first-degree murder in the death of a dog trainer whose clients included some of Seattle's most famous residents.

Michiel Oakes consoled his children as the verdict was read. As his family cried tears of sorrow, members of Mark Stover's family wiped away tears of relief and joy.

"I'm just so happy we were able to get justice for my uncle," said Julia Simmons, Stover's niece.

Oakes was dating Stover's ex-wife. He claimed he shot Stover in self-defense during an argument over wedding photos Stover wanted. But the story got stranger from there. Oakes was caught on video buying ankle weights and camouflage clothing before the shooting.

Oakes claimed Stover was a jealous, dangerous maniac and told of an elaborate plan to use the gear should he need to escape Stover.

Jurors didn't buy it.

"Just to know he was held accountable. He was so obviously guilty. It's just nice to have at least one door closed and maybe more to come," said Guy Palumbo, a friend of Stover.

Oakes faces at least 20 years in prison.

Stover disappeared a year ago and his body still has not been found.

"It definitely has been a long road," said Simmons. "This is closure in a lot of ways, but there will never be full closure until we find him."

Stover's clients included members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, moviemaker Cameron Crowe, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.