Inmate on work release who murdered girlfriend sentenced to life - KPTV - FOX 12

Inmate on work release who murdered girlfriend sentenced to life in prison

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Jason Down, jail booking photo Jason Down, jail booking photo
Shooting scene in Silverton, August 2014 (file image) Shooting scene in Silverton, August 2014 (file image)
Cassandra Wagner Cassandra Wagner

A Marion County Jail inmate who murdered his girlfriend while he was out on work release has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility for parole.

Jason Down, 44, pleaded guilty to charges including aggravated murder, felon in possession of a firearm, burglary and unauthorized departure in August.

Investigators said Down shot and killed 50-year-old Cassandra Wagner. He was arrested in connection to the killing in late August 2014.

Down was supposed to be at work at the time as part of a jail release program for inmates.  

Down and Wagner were in a 10-year relationship, but friends said it had turned abusive. Wagner had gotten a restraining order against Down, who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for a probation violation after defying the order.

His original probation was for an assault conviction involving a family member, according to court records.

Family members of Wagner told FOX 12 they had no idea how bad the situation was for her.

They said notes were found after her death describing her fear of retaliation from Down for reporting him to police.

"She wrote, 'after the last time Jason assaulted me, I spent the week hiding from him while he spent hours and hours every day going to several of my friends' houses and calling my place of employment trying to get me to pretend that everything was OK,'" said her brother Bryce Wagner.

Bryce Wagner said his sister was always looking to help people with problems.

"I really believe that she was thinking, 'well who else will love this guy? I can help him out. He'll get better,'" he said.

Bryce Wagner hopes anyone in a similar situation to his sister will talk to friends and family and seek help.

Down received a true life sentence, meaning no chance for parole, on Tuesday.

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