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Originally published August 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 3, 2008 at 10:52 AM

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Man found guilty of first-degree murder in stepfather's death

A King County jury found Jon Ogden guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying of his stepfather, longtime Boeing employee Ronald Whitehead, 61.

Seattle Times staff reporter

After deliberating only half a day, a King County jury found a 20-year-old man guilty of participating in the 2005 slaying of his stepfather, which was made to look like a carjacking.

Jon Ogden, the stepson of longtime Boeing employee Ronald Whitehead, 61, was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday after a two-week trial before Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez.

Ogden sat motionless as the verdict was read. In the hall after the verdict, Kimberley Whitehead, the victim's daughter, said seeing her stepbrother was difficult.

"I really think the jurors found evidence presented to them very compelling," she said. When she was asked what the murder has done to her family, her eyes filled with tears and her voice became a whisper.

"I can't talk about that," she said.

Ogden is one of three people charged with killing Whitehead in an intersection near his Des Moines home on March 18, 2005. Last month, the victim's widow, Velma Ogden-Whitehead, 50, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for her role in the plot to kill her husband.

Ogden's friend, Wilson Sayachack, whose first two trials ended in mistrials, will go to trial next month.

After Ronald Whitehead was slain, Ogden-Whitehead publicly asked for help finding her husband's killer. She later admitted masterminding the plot herself, although she told prosecutors she never thought her husband actually would be killed.

To avoid trial, Ogden-Whitehead in May agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for reducing her sentence by five years.

In a highly unusual move, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutors Craig Peterson and Carla Carlstrom had Whitehead's car reassembled in the courtroom during Ogden's trial so jurors could see how Whitehead was sitting when the shots were fired.

According to prosecutors, Sayachack was hiding in the trunk of Whitehead's car, pushed down the folding back seat and fired four shots into the back of Whitehead's head. Ogden was in the passenger seat.

Witnesses told police they heard shots, saw Whitehead being pushed from the car and saw the car speed off.

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Sayachack's first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't agree on a verdict. The second trial ended in a mistrial when a key witness came forward and the weapon used in the slaying was discovered during the trial.

After Tuesday's verdict, Ogden's attorney, Joe Chalverus, said he would ask the court to consider that Ogden was only 16 at the time of the slaying and depended on his mother for food, shelter and clothing and still had the impulsive nature of a child.

Ogden, who was tried as an adult, is to be sentenced Oct. 3. He could face 25 to 31 years in prison.

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or nbartley@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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