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On Friday, March 25, 2022, a Grant County jury entered a verdict on a sensational civil murder case. 

Tim McNamara (then 66), a small farm operator in Soap Lake, began a romantic relationship with his niece (then 41) in July 2012.  Within five months he had paid off all of her bills, given her $30,000.00, put her on all of his accounts, named her on his life insurance, and deeded her the entire legacy farm.  In a handwritten will, he named her as his sole beneficiary.

In 2013, Tim purchased 50 acres in Belize.  Again putting it in both of their names.  And then began building three houses on the property.  In December 2013 they engaged in a wedding ceremony without disclosing their family relationship.

By 2014, Tim was spending most of his time building in Belize.  According to witnesses, the couple were frequently apart and not getting along.  Tim did not trust Defendant and had learned that she had an affair.  In October while in North Carolina Defendant bought a Glock which she shipped to Belize.  It arrived in late November and was December 2, 2014.

On December 25, 2014, a few days before one of his life insurance policies was set to expire, Tim was found dead by the Belize police on the back porch of the home he had built.  Defendant said she found him.  When he didn’t move, she laid down and spooned him for at least an hour before seeking help.  She maintained at trial that it was suicide.

The Belize police obtained a search warrant for the computers and Defendant’s shirt.  A few days after being interviewed Defendant left the country returning to Soap Lake. 

Tim’s children began to have suspicions when Defendant’s story kept changing.  In 2015, The Belize Police issued a Warrant in the First Instance for Tracy Nessl on the grounds of murder. 

In order for the Belize Police to pursue this matter further it would be necessary for the United States to allow extradition.  Though the FBI could assist to a certain extent, it has no jurisdiction. 

Since the State of Washington had no jurisdiction to try Defendant for murder in Belize under the criminal laws of this state, the next step for the family was to hire a civil attorney.

The family hired The Stritmatter Firm to file a complaint for civil murder.  The goal of the suit was to obtain a money judgment and a finding under the Slayer Statute which provides that a person may not benefit from property if they kill a person to get it.

After many delays, on March 7, 2022, the trial began before Judge John Knodell.  Karen Koehler assisted by Furhad Sultani tried the case for the plaintiffs.  John Henry Browne for defendant. 

On March 25, 2022, after three and a half hours of deliberation, the jury announced its verdict in favor of criminal murder.  Specifically, Defendant committed battery against Tim McNamara which proximately caused his death.  Her actions were unlawful and willful.  Plaintiffs did not want a dollar more from Defendant than what she took.  The jury found exactly so:

  1. Economic Damages of Estate $77,000
  2. Personal Damages of Timothy McNamara: $1.8 million
  3. Damages of the Beneficiaries
    1. For Jennifer Ralston: $725,000
    2. For Caleb McNamara: $725,000

Plaintiffs were represented by:  Karen Koehler Lead, Andrew Ackley, Furhad Sultani, Shannon Kilpatrick, Ruby Aliment, and Paralegals:  Anne Roberson and Debbie Watt.