Witness blocked, so murder charge dropped

2012-12-08T10:00:00Z Witness blocked, so murder charge droppedBy Kyle Odegard, Albany Democrat-Herald Corvallis Gazette Times
December 08, 2012 10:00 am  • 

Case against Linn judge’s daughter dismissed

ALBANY — The murder case against Lorraine Sarich has fallen apart partly because the prosecution can’t use a key witness — Sarich’s developmentally disabled young adult son.

“We have no case without the kid. We can’t go forward,” said Jeff Manning, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Justice.

A motion to dismiss Sarich’s charges was filed by prosecutors Nov. 29.

Sarich, 46, was released from the Linn County Jail on Nov. 30, after serving 777 days in custody.

The homicide victim was William Carl Mills, formerly of Lebanon. His skeletal remains were found near Lyons in 2007. He had been shot in the head, according to court documents.

According to the prosecution, Sarich’s son was present during the murder and its aftermath. He gave investigators directions to the killing site and where the victim’s abandoned vehicle had been located.

He also drew pictures of the crime and how it was committed, and talked about it, according to court documents.

However, Portland defense attorney Christopher Clayhold said much of the police interaction with Sarich’s son was leading and suggestive.

Sarich’s son also has communication difficulties that would make him unable to effectively appear in court

The prosecution faced other problems, including other suspects who weren’t pursued, Clayhold added.

“There was a lot about their case we were going to attack,” Clayhold said.

Sarich is the daughter of Linn County Circuit Court Judge Carol Bispham. Because of that, the prosecutors, defense attorneys and judge were all recruited from outside the area because of potential conflicts of interest.

The Oregon Department of Justice, substituting for the Linn County District Attorney’s Office, had appealed a 2011 ruling that Sarich’s son was incompetent to testify. A previous conviction and other actions by Sarich that prosecutors had hoped to use in court were ruled inadmissable by Judge Dennis Graves.

Prosecutors appealed, but the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the rulings Nov. 29.

Sarich had been charged with three counts of aggravated murder in the death of Mills, who was a caregiver for Sarich’s son.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office initially investigated the crime, and a deputy testified in a hearing that Sarich was involved in an identity theft and fraud scheme to protect her assets from bankruptcy. Mills’ identity had been used in the scheme, and Sarich was alerted that he had discovered the fraud, the deputy testified.

Undersheriff Bruce Riley expressed disappointment with the pending dismissal of the case.

“There’s a lot of work put in this case, a lot of hours,” he said. “We’re still actively conducting an investigation regarding the homicide.”

Clayhold said that Sarich is making a difficult transition back into everyday life.

“For any inmate who is in custody that long, it takes a while to acclimate again. They are used to four cement walls around the clock,” Clayhold said.

“She soon is going to be reunited with her children, and she looks forward to that,” he said. “She is doing very well, considering.”

Copyright 2016 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. XXXXXXXXX
    Report Abuse
    XXXXXXXXX - December 12, 2012 12:20 pm
    Our Oregon Supreme Court examined the STATE v SARICH case in great detail.
    Both, the 2 page case summary link, and the 25 page detailed information from the Oregon Supreme Court's website are shown below:

    OREGON SUPREME COURT SUMMARY
    http://www.ojd.state.or.us/SCA/WebMediaRel.nsf/Files/2012-11-01_Media_Release.pdf/$File/2012-11-01_Media_Release.pdf

    Link to 25 PAGE DETAILED SARICH v STATE CASE FINDINGS
    http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S059928.pdf

    After reading the full case information from the source, instead of tabloid sound bites, what do You think?

  2. Deb
    Report Abuse
    Deb - December 10, 2012 7:37 pm
    Or are related to the legal system. All legals stick together.
  3. Deb
    Report Abuse
    Deb - December 10, 2012 7:37 pm
    Bill was a very loving man and deserves more justice than this!!. Where is the gun? The fingerprints? The DNA connections since he was the son's caregiver? The tire marks from the scene? Come on people!! Obviously the son knows a lot and his information can be extracted from a licensed professional in a non anxiety provoking environment and can be taped or can be on video to the courtroom. There are many ways that his testimony can be used.

    Bring justice for an innocent man who suffered a horrible death and was left to rot where he lay. Just wrong people. Where's the justice??? Maybe the detective unit should watch a little more criminal investigation or CSI. They could probably do a better job than this. OH WAIT, it's a JUDGES DAUGHTER, SO LET'S GET HER AN INNOCENT VERDICT!!!
  4. curious one
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    curious one - December 10, 2012 12:29 pm
    So, who will protect the son from his mother. If indeed she did kill the care giver because he discovered she had stolen his identity, how safe is the son, when she knows he gave the police the information that put her in jail.

    Is anyone paying attention here?
  5. Centralsteve
    Report Abuse
    Centralsteve - December 08, 2012 12:03 pm
    So, if you know the legal system, you can get away with murder.
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