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DA releases Lara murder case evidence


It’s been nearly two months since a Deschutes County judge sentenced Edwin Lara to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing Kaylee Sawyer. Now, evidence that would have come to play in a trial, had he not pleaded guilty, is coming into public view.

Lara was charged with four counts of aggravated murder in the July 24, 2016 abduction. He admitted to abducting the 23-year-old Sawyer as she was walking home, killing her and later dumping her body in two locations in Deschutes County.

NewsChannel 21 filed a public records request to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, asking for evidence in the Kaylee Sawyer murder case.

Video interviews of Edwin Lara and his ex-wife, Isabel Ponce-Lara, show how his wife found out about the killing and what Lara did after he killed Sawyer.

Ponce-Lara said that on what turned out to be the morning after the crime, she and her husband attended church, as they did every Sunday.

“He was very quiet, like, on the way to church, wasn’t saying much, which was just unusual,” she said during an interview with investigators. “At church, he was very quiet. Like, he would usually grab my hand, but he wasn’t doing that. So when we got out of church, I asked him, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s going on?” I told him, ‘We’ve been together for a very long time. I know when something’s up.'”

She told investigators that after church, they went home and later took in a movie in the Old Mill District.

Lara told police that after his wife fell asleep, he hid Sawyer’s body at NW Hemholtz Way and Antler Avenue in Redmond — and later, with the help of a cousin, they moved her to Highway 126 just west of Redmond.

The next morning, on Monday, two days after the murder, Lara confessed to his wife — though not the true story, investigators said.

Ponce-Lara was watching TV as Lara came into the room.

“His eyes were all teary. That’s when I was, like, ‘Tell me what happened? What’s wrong?” So he sits on the sofa and I turn off the TV and he just says that he was, like, ‘I killed a woman’ — and that’s what he said. “I’m, like, What do you mean?” Ponce-Lara recalled.

Lara originally told his wife that he had hit Sawyer with a Central Oregon Community College vehicle, but evidence showed the campus patrol vehicle Lara was driving didn’t have any scratches or marks on it.

Lara, in a panic, grabbed his wife’s gun from her purse and, getting ready to take off, he told his wife that Sawyer’s belongings were in their shed.

There, Ponce-Lara found Sawyer’s green purse and black shoes and the large rock with blood on it that was used in the crime.

Authorities said Lara fled Central Oregon and carjacked Aundrea Maes, of Salem. He ditched his vehicle but left a note apologizing to Sawyer’s father and mother and stating he had only wanted to silence Sawyer, but not forever. He also writes he killed her in the COCC parking lot and ended the note by writing that he would forever love his wife.

Lara then headed south to Northern California, where authorities said he shot a man at a Yreka, California, motel. He then carjacked a car with a man’s family inside and led police on a high-speed chase before being arrested.

Hours later, investigators from Deschutes County were interviewing Lara, asking him to tell them where Sawyer’s body was.

Lara said, “I want to tell you where the body is, but I want to go home first.”

While Lara was being interviewed by detectives, his wife was also being questioned, as she tried to figure out what kind of man she had married.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me because, Im like, how can somebody do that? Especially you? It doesn’t make sense,” Ponce-Lara said, in tears.

Lara changed his plea in January and was sentenced to life in prison.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel told NewsChannel 21 that his office is still investigating whether anyone else was involved in the events after Sawyer was killed.

Currently, Lara has begun serving his life sentence at Snake River Correctional Facility in Ontario.

Dateline NBC is set to film here in Central Oregon soon and air a special report on the case in May.

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