DA: Kaylee Sawyer case gag order unconstitutional

Kaylee Sawyer was killed in July 2016

Kaylee Sawyer, 23, in an undated photo from her Faceook page, July 26, 2016
Kaylee Sawyer, 23, in an undated photo from her Faceook page, July 26, 2016

BEND, Ore. (KOIN) – Deschutes District Attorney John Hummel is arguing through the justice department that a gag order preventing authorities from discussing the Kaylee Sawyer aggravated murder case violates the United States Constitution.

In a filing, which some legal observers have described as unusual, the Oregon Department of Justice argues the Aug. 18 order by Judge A. Michael Adler is “overbroad” because it “prohibits protected speech under both the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” and the Oregon Constitution.

The United States Constitution

Hummel argues the gag order also “infringes” on his rights as an elected official, and his obligations to consult with the family of Kaylee Sawyer.

Hummel is asking the court vacate the gag order in part because in order for him “to engage in any meaningful consultation with the victims would require an exchange of information between both parties. Any consultation regarding plea negotiations would necessitate a discussion of the various possible alternatives as well as D.A. Hummel’s evaluations of those alternatives.”

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

Edwin Lara is charged with 4 counts of aggravated murder in connection with the death of Kaylee Sawyer. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lara, who was a public safety officer at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, allegedly kidnapped the 23-year-old woman, tried to sexually assault her, killed her and then dumped her body on or around July 24.

Authorities also say Lara then traveled to Salem, kidnapped another woman and took her to California, where he shot a man and carjacked a vehicle with 3 people inside. After a chase over 100 mph on the main freeway along the West Coast, the California Highway Patrol arrested Lara.

A Deschutes County Circuit Court judge said October 10, 2017 is “a very firm trial date” for Lara.