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Defendant in murder trial admits to killing former Mercer Island man

On trial this month for the murder of T. Mark Stover, a former Island native and nationally recognized dog trainer, defendant Michiel Oakes said in court Tuesday that he killed Stover to keep himself from being killed.

Oakes testified in Skagit County Superior Court that he shot Stover, wrapped his body in plastic and dropped him into the Swinomish Channel last October.

Oakes said the shooting occurred as he and Stover wrestled for Stover's gun, and Oakes shot Stover in self-defense. He told the courtroom he didn't go to the authorities because he felt they wouldn't believe his story.

Stover’s mysterious disappearance late last October baffled family and friends, police and a countless number of case followers.

Last seen on Oct. 27, 2009, Stover was reported missing the following day after he failed to show up for work. Skagit County deputies found traces of Stover’s blood in his car and inside the downstairs bedroom and hallway of the trainer’s Anacortes-area home, according to past Reporter coverage.

Oakes, a former boyfriend of Stover’s ex-wife Linda Opdyke, was charged with the murder earlier this summer.

To follow the trial as it happens visit Tahlia Ganser's Twitter page. Ganser is the law and justice reporter for the Skagit Valley Herald.

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