Bend murder suspect Edwin Lara arraigned in CA

Edwin Lara is accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer of Bend

Edwin Lara in his first California court appearance, July 29, 2016 (KOIN)
Edwin Lara in his first California court appearance, July 29, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Edwin Lara, the man accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in California Friday afternoon for attempted murder, kidnapping, carjacking and assault with a firearm.

Those charges are all for an alleged crime spree in California after Kaylee Sawyer was killed.

Lara is also being held on a fugitive from justice hold out of Deschutes County where prosecutors charged him with murder, plus California charges of assault with a firearm and making threats to terrorize.

The 31-year-old entered the not guilty plea to all California charges. He is being held without bail.

“Mr. Lara will remain here, will remain a prisoner here with no bail and that will allow the authorities in Oregon to collaborate with who they choose to secure his transportation if they want him there,” said Joseph Allison, assistant DA for Siskiyou County.

Timeline of events in the Edwin Lara case

The extradition process is still in the works and Lara’s next court appearance is scheduled for August 16.

The case

Edwin Lara was arrested in Yreka, Calif. July 26, 2016 (Yreka Police)
Edwin Lara was arrested in Yreka, Calif. July 26, 2016 (Yreka Police)

Lt. Dave Gamache with Yreka Police Department confirmed detectives recovered video surveillance evidence showing Lara at a motel in Yreka on Monday, July 26. Around 5 a.m., police responded to reports of a shooting and found a wounded 72-year-old man.

At 5:41 a.m., police received reports of a carjacking from a nearby gas station. Gamache said video surveillance connects Lara to that crime as well.

Kaylee Sawyer, 23, disappeared Sunday night. Police are now investigating the case as a homicide. (Facebook)
Kaylee Sawyer, 23, disappeared Sunday night. Police are now investigating the case as a homicide. (Facebook)

Lara was arrested by California Highway Patrol and booked into Tehama County Jail, then transferred to Siskiyou County Jail Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the Oregon state medical examiner ruled Sawyer died from blunt force trauma. She was 23.

Lara’s wife, Bend police officer Isabel Ponce-Lara, reached out to police to let them know about her husband’s alleged involvement in Sawyer’s disappearance.

Ponce-Lara said her husband acted “out of the ordinary” when he came home from work Sunday night, according to court documents. The college campus safety officer told his wife Sawyer walked out in front of him and he hit her with his work vehicle.

He dumped her body, hid her personal belongings in a shed at his home and fled, court records show. Police later learned he allegedly kidnapped a Salem woman and stole her car. The woman was with him when he reportedly shot the elderly man in the stomach, kidnapped 3 other people and stole their car before being arrested.

An extradition hearing will be held in the future to determine when Lara will come to Oregon to face murder charges.

Edwin Lara’s wife

Isabel Ponce-Lara, a Bend police officer married to Edwin Lara, is on paid leave from the department and is shaken by these events, her attorney Brendon Alexander confirmed to KOIN 6 News.

He said he couldn’t discuss the details of the case but said Ponce-Lara went to the Redmond police — where they live — as soon as it was safe to do so.

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