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Man convicted in Wilsonville slaying gets life — for the second time

Wendell Tate loses appeal


by: CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE - A Clackamas County Sheriffs Office van is shown at the scene of the 2007 murder of Ricardo Stokes, who lived on Southwest Essex Court in Wilsonville. The man convicted of murdering Wilsonville resident Ricardo Stokes has once again been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Wendell K. Tate was convicted in 2009 of aggravated murder and burglary in the brutal slaying of Stokes, who was killed two years earlier in his Wilsonville home with a bladed weapon that police never found. Prosecutors showed that Tate murdered Stokes over an affair Stokes was having with Tate’s wife.

by: CLACKAMAS COUNTY JAIL - Wendell Tate was convicted of the 2007 murder of Wilsonville man Ricardo Stokes, who was allegedly having an affair with Tates wife. Tate was given a life sentence following the original trial and was convicted based partially on the aggravating circumstance created by the act of burglary. Oregon law allows for a charge of aggravated murder if the defendant commits a murder during the course of another felony crime.

Defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully at trial to argue that the burglary was actually a part of Tate’s plan to murder Stokes and not a separate crime. But Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Thom ruled at the time the burglary could, in fact, be used by prosecutors to argue in favor of a life sentence.

Thom, however, later reversed that ruling upon appeal, which meant that Tate would have a shot at parole after serving at least 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors subsequently appealed that second ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals, however, which decided in their favor in a ruling issued earlier this year. That ruling returned the case to Clackamas County, where Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Jones last week reimposed the original life sentence on Tate.