BEND, OR -- The man accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer near the COCC campus a year and a half ago, now admits he committed murder. Edwin Lara plead guilty to Robbery and Aggravated murder, Monday morning, in Deschutes County Court, after reaching a deal with prosecutors.
Judge Michael Adler asked Lara, "'Is it true that on July 24, 2016, in Deschutes County, Oregon, that you took Kaylee Sawyer’s purse without her consent and with the threat of deadly force?' Lara responded, simply, 'Yes'." Judge Adler then asked, "'And, in the furtherance of the crime of Robbery in the First Degree, and in the course of committing Robbery in the First Degree, did you use a dangerous weapon and personally and intentionally cause the death of Kaylee Ann Sawyer'?" to which Lara also answered, "'Yes'."
He admitted to trying to strangle the 23-year-old woman as she fought back, although her cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma. The Deschutes County District Attorney had planned to seek the death penalty
, if the case went to trial. The plea agreement means Lara avoids death and will serve life in prison with no possibility of parole.
During Monday's sentencing, Sawyer's friends and family expressed how her murder has impacted their lives. Juli VanCleave said from now on, she will always be the mother of a murdered child, and it's important her daughter is not forgotten. "Kaylee Ann Sawyer is my firstborn. The moment I held her, I understood what love at first sight meant, and that it is real. She will continue to live on in all the memories that are shared."
Jim Walden says his granddaughter had so much more to offer the world than Edwin Lara ever will. "The piece of human garbage sitting over there the court refers to as 'the defendant,' by his own admission, he wanted to silence my granddaughter forever." One family friend asked for Lara to be released into his personal custody, "We'll take him out in the desert; we'll let the eagles, and the hawks, and the coyotes, and the maggots eat that piece of sh** alive, and then when the buzzards are done, I'm gonna fill his carcass full of lead. Pow!"
Lara showed little emotion during the hours long hearing, but he did express remorse, saying he knows Kaylee's family isn't ready to listen to him. "God Almighty who art in Heaven, please! Heal the hearts, all the broken hearts of this community, I ask You. Please! Heal the hearts of this family. And let Kaylee Sawyer rest in peace."