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Guilty plea for August murder

The suspect in the Aug. 9 stabbing death of Zachary Fitz of Bremerton pleaded guilty Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Michael Lloyd Derr, 27, also of Bremerton, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Kitsap County Superior Court, said Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office.

According to Wilson, Derr’s plea agreement means Derr now only awaits formal sentencing in the case. The plea bargain avoided first-degree murder plus arson, in the burning of Fitz’ truck.

Derr has been in custody almost from the beginning of the case. He was picked up as “a person of interest” three days after Fitz’ body was found Aug. 9. More evidence was collected at Derr’s residence and Derr was cooperative when arrested. Bail was set at $1 million — but has now been dropped due to the guilty plea.

One other person was also picked up, but then released after it was determined they were not involved, Wilson said.

Fitz’ body was found in a wooded area off the 11000 block of Old Military Road N.E. Apparently, a horseback rider found him.

Fitz had been stabbed, according to Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom, and died from loss of blood. Deputies still don’t have a motive, said Wilson, and “the suspect isn’t talking.”

Fitz’ vehicle, a Ford Bronco, was found engulfed in flames 90 minutes after his body was found. The vehicle was off N.W. Holly Road near Wildcat Lake in South Kitsap.

Anyone with information on the case should contact Detective Mike Rodrigue at the Sheriff’s Office, (360) 337-4479. Deputy prosecutor Andy Anderson, handling the case for the Kitsap County Prosecutor, said motive “Was probably something to do with money.”

He said sentencing will occur Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. in Superior Court, Port Orchard. Sentencing ranges from 21 to 28 years.

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