Edwin Lara Sentenced to Life in Prison

Today, Edwin Lara was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer.

Lara submitted a guilty plea this morning for aggravated murder and robbery. The sentence was handed down by Judge Micheal Adler after hours of impact statements, both written and in-person, were presented to the court by Sawyer’s friends and family.

Adler said the brutality of the murder, along with Lara’s position as a COCC public safety officer, made the case stand out to him.

“You are fortunate a jury is not deciding whether to sentence you to death,” said Adler. Adler added that a true life sentence is the most serious sentence anyone actually receives in Oregon and called it “appropriate for this case.”

After Edwin Lara plead guilty to aggravated murder and robbery in the first-degree, Lara also waived his right to 48-hour sentencing.

With that Judge Adler allowed impact statements from Sawyer’s friends and family. Sawyer’s mother Juli Walden VanCleave said to Lara during her statement, “You have failed to silence her.” Talking about how Sawyer’s death united the community and there is now a foundation and a scholarship in her honor.

“I’ll always be the mother of a murder victim, but your mother will always be the mother of a murderer and a rapist,” said VanCleave.

One of Sawyer’s friends who testified said she regularly reaches for her phone to text or call Sawyer before she remembers that she can’t. She also said she still struggles to sleep or to be alone at night.

“I don’t even want to have children anymore because I know that monsters exist,” said Sawyer’s friend.

Sawyer’s maternal grandparents, Jim and Sharon Walden, and family friend Doug Gray all expressed frustration at Lara’s plea deal, which allowed him to avoid the death penalty that was being sought by District Attorney John Hummel, by pleading guilty.

The court took a break after testimony from Sawyer’s mother, maternal grandparents and friend. Sawyer’s father, paternal grandparents and co-workers from Awbrey Dental Group read their impact statements this afternoon.

Sawyer’s coworkers both delivered tearful testimony about how her murder has affect their lives and work and Sawyer’s father, the only person who addressed the court from the witness stand, held back tears before echoing that his daughter’s voice was not silenced by her murder.

After a brief recess Lara was able to address the court. Much of Sawyer’s family, including her friends, coworkers, mother and paternal grandparents all chose to leave the courtroom and returned after Lara’s statement.

“Today, I’ve seen your pain,” said Lara, who turned around to address those gathered in the courtroom, rather than the judge. “Today, I’ve seen your hate. I don’t have much to say to you at this moment. I can only pray. Someday, I would like to speak to whoever will listen. God Almighty, who art in Heaven, I’ll ask you please, heal the hearts of this community. I ask you to please heal the hearts of this family, of everyone who is in this place today, and that Kaylee Sawyer rest in peace Amen.”

Sawyer’s grandfather Jim Walden walked out during Lara’s statement and returned with the rest of Sawyer’s family.

Lara, a 32-year-old former COCC campus safety officer, is accused of abducting 23-year-old Sawyer as she was walking home, killing her on the college campus and dumping her body in a canyon west of Redmond in July 2016.

Lara was also accused of sexually assaulting Sawyer but, according to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, once Lara’s initial confession was thrown out, sexual assault became harder to prove. He also noted that Lara refused to plead guilty to sexual assault as part of his plea deal. Hummel said they’re main goal was to get a life sentence so they decided with the family to not pursue a sexual assault conviction in order to avoid a less harsh sentence.

Lara will carry out his entire sentence in Oregon, regardless of what is decided in the case against him in California.

Stay with Central Oregon Daily on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates, and we will have report a report from Anyssa Bohanan at 6 p.m. on KOHD-ABC and 7 p.m. on KBNZ-CBS.

Supper Club: The State of Our Schools

Recent nationwide studies have ranked Oregon near the bottom of the country when it comes to education spending and test scores so for this week’s Supper Club, Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel sat down with a Bend-La Pine school board member, the president of Central Oregon Community College and the vice president of OSU-Cascades for a closer look at the state of our schools.

Thanks to Rebecca Johnson, Shirley Metcalf and Cheri Helt for joining us. A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsors, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Shooting Near COCC Campus

Bend Police released the following report on Sunday morning after COCC students were alerted about a shooting near the COCC campus on Saturday night:

Date & Time of Incident: January 6th at 6:52 pm

Type of Incident: Attempted Murder

Location of Incident: 2500 NW Regency

Victim:

Shayne Oloughlin 19 year old male Bend resident

Juvenile 16 year old male Bend resident

Suspect:

15 year old male Bend resident

15 year old male Bend resident

Narrative:

On January 6th at 6:52 pm, the Bend Police Department was notified by Deschutes County 911 of a possible shooting investigation. Bend Police, along with Bend Fire and Rescue, responded to an apartment within the complex at 2500 NW Regency to assist a 16 year old juvenile who had suffered a gunshot wound.

The juvenile was transported to St. Charles Medical Center with life threatening injuries.

The initial investigation found that the 16 year old was with Shayne Oloughlin at Oloughlin’s apartment. Two 15 year old male suspects, who are known to the victims, stole marijuana. During the robbery, they shot the 16 year old victim before fleeing in a vehicle.

Bend Police activated the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team and worked this investigation throughout the night in cooperation with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators were able to locate both 15 year old suspects and recovered a firearm and additional stolen items. Both juveniles are being lodged at the Deschutes County Juvenile Department on charges of Attempted Murder, Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Burglary I and Robbery I. Based on the type of incident, specific details are being withheld as the investigation is still on going.

The Bend Police Department learned early on that this was an isolated incident and determined there was no direct threat to the immediate area of the incident.

Investigators are asking anyone with information related to this incident to contact Deschutes County Dispatch at (541) 693-6911.

The Major Crime Team was activated for this incident. Members from Bend PD, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Prineville PD, Redmond PD, Oregon State Police and the Oregon State Police Crime Lab assisted with the investigation.

Supper Club: Working in the Trades

In this week’s Supper Club conversation, Donna got the chance to talk with Gary North, vice president of R&H Construction, Laura Handy, executive director of Heart of Oregon Corps and Rosa Madrid, an intern with the COCC Automotive Program about the shortage of trade workers, the renewed interest in young people getting into the trades and how making a living in the trades is quite viable

Thanks to Rosa, Laura and Gary for joining us.

special thanks to our Supper Club sponsor, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Bend Your Ear: Coffee with the Candidates

In this edition of Bend Your Ear at Strictly Organic Coffee, at 6 SW Bond St. in Bend, Donna chats with Central Oregon Community College District Director candidates Kyle Frick and Erica Skatvold. Both are running for the Zone 4 position in the special election May 16th. Kyle is VP of Marketing and Community Relations at Mid Oregon Credit Union and is a graduate of Mountain View High School. Erica works at St. Charles Health System, Clinical Informatics and is a graduate of Bend High. Watch to learn more about these two candidates.

Also running for Central Oregon Community College District Director, Zone 3 is former Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger, who was unable to join us for coffee. More on Alan and the other candidates in your Voters’ Pamphlet.   

COCC Celebrates National Poetry Month

Central Oregon Community College is hosting a series of events in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Central Oregon Daily’s Chris Biggs went to the poetry slam hosted by Bend’s own MOsley WOttaThe last in the series of National Poetry Month events at COCC will be a workshop and reading hosted by Oregon’s Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Woody, on April 28th.

For more arts and culture listings in Central Oregon, pick up the latest issue of The Source Weekly or head to their website at www.bendsource.com.