Slain deputy’s mother testifies as prosecution closes Finch case


Herald Writer

The mother of a sheriff’s deputy shot to death in August 1994 told a Snohomish County jury Monday the killing created lasting pain and has left a "huge void" in the lives of his family and friends.

Phyllis Kinard said her son, sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Kinard, 34, was a loving father to a son, then 5, and a dedicated public servant.

She told jurors how, as a little boy, her son loved nothing more than getting up in the morning, putting on his cowboy outfit and strapping on his toy guns. She shared her pride in watching him mature, graduate from college, start a family and settle into a career he loved.

Although more than five years have passed since Kinard was gunned down by Charles Ben Finch outside a mobile home near Cathcart, "he’s our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night," his mother said.

The testimony came as prosecutors concluded their case in the second sentencing trial for Finch, 51.

A jury in 1995 found Finch guilty of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the Aug. 15, 1994, killings of Kinard and Ronald Modlin, 38.

Jurors have since Oct. 12 been listening to evidence about how Finch, a former convict who had served time in prison for rape and manslaughter, went to the home of his then-estranged wife carrying beer and a semiautomatic pistol. Finch first shot Modlin, who was blind, and then opened fire on deputies when they converged on the scene, killing Kinard with a single bullet to the neck.

Finch had been sentenced to die for the killings. But the state Supreme Court in 1999 tossed out the sentence because jurors saw Finch restrained by handcuffs and with a nylon strap hobbling his ankles. His underlying convictions remain intact, so jurors are again deciding his punishment. The only sentences are death or life in prison without possibility of release.

Prosecutors have told jurors the evidence shows there are not sufficient circumstances to warrant leniency.

Finch’s attorneys are expected today to begin presenting evidence that Finch should be spared the death sentence. The man was suicidal because his marriage and life were falling apart, and he acted out of anger and hopelessness, his public defender, Susan Gaer, said when the trial started.

Closing arguments are expected late this week.

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