A judge has given a former college campus security officer a federal life sentence for terrorizing a 19-year-old woman by carjacking her at gunpoint in Oregon and forcing her to accompany him to California after having killed another woman.
Calling Edwin Lara an “extreme danger to the community,” U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane on Thursday veered from sentencing guidelines to issue the life sentence, The Oregonian reported .
The uncommon federal sentence marks Lara’s second life prison term. The 34-year-old was sentenced in Oregon state court last year to life without parole for the July 24, 2016, sexual assault, kidnapping and killing of Kaylee Sawyer in Bend. Prosecutors after the killing, Lara kidnapped Aundreah Maes in the state capital of Salem and drove to California where he is accused of shooting and injuring a man.
Maes made a brief statement in U.S. District Court in Eugene after Lara pleaded guilty to her carjacking and kidnapping. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and you’re going to rot where you belong,” she said.
Lara’s defense lawyer, Mark Sabitt, had argued that the federal sentence was unnecessary. The three-day crime spree Lara engaged in could only be explained by his client’s genetic, degenerative cognitive brain disability, identified in a recent evaluation, Sabitt said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan J. Lichvarcik described how Lara, on the run from his fatal beating of Sawyer, “hunted” for a carjacking victim in Salem, finding Maes as she left her job at a clothing store. He opened her passenger door, pointed a gun at her and demanded she drive.
While she drove, the prosecutor said Lara showed her pictures of him as a campus security officer for Central Oregon Community College and news reports about the 23-year-old woman he’d just killed. He had her stop at a motel in Cottage Grove where he handcuffed her and where the prosecutor said she made up a story about a sexually transmitted disease to avoid sexual assault.
He then had them drive to Yreka, California, where authorities say he shot and wounded a man at a motel. Lara with the woman fled on foot to a gas station where Lara is accused of carjacking a vehicle with a woman and her two sons inside. They were later released along Interstate 5 before the car was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol.
Lara told the judge Thursday that he was sorry.
“I wish I could take everything back,” he said. “I don’t know what happened . I was never this kind of guy.”
Charges for the California shooting and carjacking are still pending.
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