A former college security guard who pleaded guilty to killing a Bend woman will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Edwin Lara was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, release or furlough in a Deschutes County courtroom Monday afternoon, hours after pleading guilty to charges of aggravated murder as part of an arrangement with prosecutors.
Police said Lara killed 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer of Bend in July of 2016 after stealing her purse. Sawyer lived in an apartment complex near Central Oregon Community College, where Lara worked as a part-time security guard.
Prosecutors said Sawyer had gone for a walk just after midnight on July 24, 2016, and was not far from her home at the time of her killing.
Investigators said data from Sawyer’s phone helped them create a timeline of events that showed her talking and texting with friends while leaving for her walk, then stop between 15 and 20 minutes later, when they believe she encountered Lara.
The phone data records showed the device was taken into the Mazama Gym on the COCC campus around 1:30 a.m., and investigators later found the phone and Sawyer’s purse in a nearby river.
According to prosecutors, Sawyer’s autopsy shows that she fought against her attacker but that blunt force trauma was the cause of death. Prosecutors showed an image of an almost 50-pound rock they claim Lara used in the killing.
During sentencing Monday, Sawyer's family and friends were emotional and heated as they addressed the court and Lara.
“She touched so many lives in her short life and continues to live on with all the memories that are shared, but those memories are sacred to me and the defendant does not deserve to hear those," Sawyer’s mother Juli Walden VanCleave said.
Lara admitted he did not have much to say in his own defense.
"Today I see the pain, today I see the hate," he said in court. "I don't have much to say to you at this moment."
While delivering the sentence, Judge A. Michael Adler noted the impact this case had on the community.
"This case stands out for many reasons. I can not recall a case in Bend that has shocked the community like this case has," he said. "The incredible brutality of this murder sets it apart."
Lara was arrested in California after investigators said he went on a crime spree which included the kidnapping of a woman in Salem and a family in California, as well as the attempted murder of a man in Yreka.
Lara still faces charges for those incidents, and Adler said any sentence from those cases would run concurrently with the sentence Lara received Monday.
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