Rainier man pleads guilty to manslaughter of Christopher Heller
A Rainier man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Columbia County Circuit Court to causing the death of Christopher Heller in 2015.
Randolph Lee Pritchard, 51, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and admitted to "recklessly causing the death of Christopher Heller," court documents indicate.
Heller, who lived in Rainier at the time, died in a Washington hospital in 2015 after he suffered injuries from blunt force trauma, Columbia County Sheriff's Office investigators said.
Heller was found unconscious in a workshop area of a residence on Whitney Road near Goble on the evening of July 21, 2015. Law enforcement was called and responded to a report of an assault that had taken place there.
When deputies arrived, Heller had been taken by his mother to a hospital and died from skull fracture injuries a week later. He was 30 years old.
Columbia County's Major Crimes Team was called in to investigate the circumstances.
The following year, on March 1, 2016, Pritchard turned himself in to sheriff's detectives after a Columbia County grand jury indicted him for murder.
Pritchard was arrested on the murder charge, as well as a warrant out of Washington for escape, a Sheriff's Office news release indicated. He was
held without bail and has been in the Columbia County Jail in St. Helens since his 2016 arrest.
Following a recommendation from the Columbia County District Attorney's Office, Pritchard's charge was reduced to second-degree manslaughter.
Pritchard's attorney, Jason Short, did not respond to a request for comment or information.
A sentencing hearing is set for early January.
Court documents indicate the DA's Office will recommend Pritchard serve a sentence of 75 months in custody — the minimum sentence according to Measure 11 crime sentencing guidelines — with credit for time served. Pritchard will also need to comply with three years of post-prison supervision, and pay and fines or fees associated with the case.