BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel is grateful that Judge Michael Adler sentenced Edwin Lara to life in prison for the 2016 death of Kaylee Sawyer. The D.A. held a press conference immediately following Monday's hearing, telling reporters, "He was innocent until today. But now that Judge Adler has declared him guilty, there are no restrictions on what I can say about the criminal case."
With the gag order lifted, Hummel was able to release details of Sawyer's murder, committed by the former Central Oregon Community College security officer. "At 5 a.m. on July 24, Lara was in his COCC 'cage car' and he saw Kaylee walking on campus. He stopped his car, and forced her into the back seat. Nobody who cared for Kaylee would see or speak to her ever again."
In his 22 years as an attorney in Central Oregon, Hummel says he's never seen a crime like this one. "It's the worst case I've seen. We [did] a proportionality analysis of every previous aggravated murder case since Deschutes County was founded; and in that review, it's not even a close call. This is the most aggravated, heinous crime that we've ever seen."
Lara agreed to change his plea to guilty in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty. Hummel said Monday it's not the end of the tragedy, "Today, we don't celebrate the end of this tragedy because it's not over for Kaylee's family. Today is the 548th day we mourn Kaylee's Death. Tomorrow will be day 549." Hummel says the sentence doesn't bring justice to Kaylee's family, but he's thankful the community is now safe from a killer.