Prosecutor: Penn Valley man killed for revenge and drugs |

Prosecutor: Penn Valley man killed for revenge and drugs

Steven Medlyn strangled Mary Spratt, 75, with her poodle’s leash because he wanted her bingo winnings and pain medication, and he was angry she told police he had stolen from her, the assistant district attorney said in court Tuesday.

But Medlyn’s attorney, Keri Goodrow of the Nevada County Public Defender’s office, said someone else murdered Spratt while Medlyn was sleeping at his mother-in-law’s home.

Opening statements and testimony in Medlyn’s murder trial Tuesday revealed Spratt went to Grass Valley police about a week before her death to report Medlyn, 35 – whom she had known for about four years – stole her money and pain medicine while he was at a yard sale at her neighbor’s house April 27, Assistant D.A. Anna Ferguson said.

Spratt was beaten and strangled to death at her West Empire Street apartment the night of May 3, 2007, the same night she won an undisclosed amount of money at bingo, Ferguson said. A neighbor found her body May 4.

“It started out being a very lucky day for Mary Spratt, but it ended up being a very unlucky night,” Ferguson said. Everyone in Spratt’s life, including Medlyn, knew Spratt played bingo on Thursday nights, she added.

Police later found Spratt’s purse under Medlyn’s bed at his mother-in-law’s house in Penn Valley.

Spratt met Steven Medlyn at the Gold Rush Casino Card Room in Grass Valley where he was a dealer, and the two began trading pain medication, Ferguson said. Spratt took oxycontin for her rheumatoid arthritis, and had begun using fentanyl patches shortly before her death, Ferguson said.

Addiction followed injury

Medlyn was prescribed pain medication in 2003 for a work-related injury and became addicted, Goodrow said. His drug of choice changed to methamphetamine, she said, but he stopped doing illegal drugs after he was arrested on a drug-related charge and sentenced to outpatient drug treatment. However, he continued taking pain medication, she said.

Medlyn admitted to drug swapping with Spratt, Ferguson said.

The Medlyns and his wife Dawn, who have three children and were going through financial straits, had been evicted from their apartment shortly before Spratt’s murder, Goodrow said. They were living with Dawn Medlyn’s mother in Penn Valley.

After Spratt reported the alleged April theft, police investigated her claim, but “it was not clear whether one party was more at fault, and ceased the investigation,” Ferguson said.

Suicide ruled out

The neighbor who found Spratt, Gloria Caselli, testified she hear a loud “thump,” followed by three softer thumps coming from Spratt’s apartment the night of the murder. She said she found Spratt dead on her bathroom floor the following afternoon, and she noticed blood in the bathtub.

The dog leash was wrapped around Spratt’s neck three times and blood was also found on the bathroom walls, door and shower curtain, investigators testified. In addition to strangulation, blunt force trauma was also a factor in the death, Ferguson said.

Suicide was not possible because there was nothing Spratt could have hung herself on, investigators testified.

Spratt’s daughter, Lisa Spratt, was present in court, and cried quietly as the jury of seven men and five women passed around a picture of the murder scene.

To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

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