COQUILLE — When Dave Wonnacott’s tattoo business started to drop off he blamed the competition, namely Brian Graham’s Flying Chicken Tattoo shop. To most business owners though, that is just a risk that goes with the territory.
Unfortunately, Wonnacott has proven that he is not like most business owners. Instead of trying to do more advertising, or improve customer service, Wonnacott decided to try to violently eliminate the competition.
On the morning of July 31, 2013, investigators say Wonnacott pulled up in a car outside of the Flying Chicken shop on Broadway in North Bend and tried to shoot Graham. The handgun didn’t go off, and the two struggled before Wonnacott hit the victim with the gun and got away.
Graham went right to the police. He said he knew the man who approached him, wearing rubber gloves and carrying a gun, was David Pierce, the owner of Bay Area Ink.
But, during a records check for David Pierce, North Bend Officer Milo Arnesen actually turned up a Department of Motor Vehicles record for Wonnacott who was a convicted felon out of Nevada. He had come to Oregon after serving time for the crime of assault with intent to commit bodily harm.
They were able to arrest their suspect later, at the Eugene Airport, after he returned from Reno, Nev.
But even in custody he seemed to remain fixated on Graham. Jail personnel would uncover a number of letters from Wonnacott to another inmate that he wrote while in custody. The prosecution said those letters indicated a conspiracy to do harm to Graham in order to keep him from being able to testify.
A sudden conclusion
They were ultimately able to bring a total of 11 charges against Wonnacott. He was about to face the first of two trials on Tuesday.
However, some new evidence had recently come to light that led both sides to reach a deal.
Wonnacott will serve all 90 months of an attempted murder charge, under Measure 11. In total, he was sentenced to 138 months, or 11 1⁄2 years in prison, and will get no credit for time served.
“We were able to come to agreement (Tuesday) on a plea for Mr. Wonnacott,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Monson said after the sentencing was complete. “He pled guilty to the attempted murder of Brian Graham, that he had conspired with (inmate) Victoria Hill to tamper with the witness, in this case Brian Graham, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.”
The new evidence was from a forensic examination of a GPS device that Wonnacott had with him showed that, even when it was off, it remained in contact with a satellite. That meant that investigators could track his movement throughout the days in question.
Monson says it showed that Wonnacott flew to Reno on July 29 and retrieved a vehicle, which they could now prove he drove back to North Bend. It showed he arrived outside the victim’s shop at the exact time the incident reportedly took place, and then quickly sped away back to Reno.
“I think that GPS is the big nail in the coffin,” he said. “That was the final thing that we needed. The other side to it is, I believe, he was really counting on having people come in and fabricate testimony and he wasn’t able to make those arrangements. At that point, a disproved alibi is about as good as a confession.”
For victim, no closure
Wonnacott did manage to imply one last threat to the victim before heading to prison.
Even though he chose not to address the court, his victim did speak.
“Mr. Graham basically said he believes Mr. Wonnacott is an evil person, (who) tried to kill him on that day and has tried to kill him since that day by trying to have someone else kill him,” Monson said.
Graham, he said, went on to indicate that he also believed Wonnacott was not yet done.
Surprisingly, Wonnacott started nodding his head as he stared back at his victim.
Back at their shop Tuesday afternoon, Graham and his wife said there was no cause for celebration. Partly, because they saw absolutely no remorse from the defendant.
While she admits the couple can breathe a little easier knowing he is in prison, Rachel Dunn said they had hoped life could go back to normal. That hope was dashed Tuesday.
“I don’t believe there will ever be a normal as long as he is alive,” she said. “He’s made it clear, with 29 letters in (jail), he wants to kill Brian. He made it clear today in front of a judge. No, it’s not like it’s over. There is some closure, just not what (we) were hoping for.”