Garlinghouse Murder Trial

Linn County Circuit Court Judge David Delsman reads the verdict in the Jason Garlinghouse murder trial on Tuesday, May 22. Garlinghouse was found guilty of murdering his wife last year in Lebanon.

A jury has found Jason Garlinghouse, 34, of Lebanon guilty of murdering his estranged wife, Sparki Garlinghouse, 34, on Valentine’s Day 2017.

The unanimous verdict, which is required by Oregon law for the charge, was returned at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, after four days of testimony in Linn County Circuit Court.

Sentencing is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 15. Murder carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years.

The jury was given instructions on Tuesday morning, and began deliberations shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Prosecutor Keith Stein had argued that Jason Garlinghouse ambushed and executed his estranged wife as she came to their Lebanon home on Osprey Way, in which he was living, to meet their children before school.

After shooting Sparki Garlinghouse eight times, seven in the back, Jason Garlinghouse then planted a knife in her hand, Stein said.

Sparki Garlinghouse used a cellphone app to record her murder and there was a pause of a couple minutes between the shooting and when Jason Garlinghouse called 9-1-1.

The couple was going through bitter divorce proceedings and a custody battle, but Sparki Garlinghouse would regularly show up at the house in the morning to greet their two kids and get them ready for school.

On the day of the killing, Jason Garlinghouse, his new girlfriend and the children had planned to go to McDonald’s to have breakfast to celebrate the holiday, but he stayed home, saying he was sick.

Sparki Garlinghouse avoided going in the house while her estranged husband was there, according to Stein, but Jason Garlinghouse had borrowed his father’s pickup the night before. Sparki Garlinghouse didn’t suspect he was home, Stein said.

The defense had argued that Jason Garlinghouse acted in self-defense, and he took the stand on Monday to testify.

He said that his wife was abusive to him and their children.

Jason Garlinghouse also testified that when he told his estranged wife that the children weren’t there on Feb. 14, 2017, she “exploded” and threatened to kill him. She was holding a serrated bread knife and took a step toward him while raising her arm when he shot her, he said.

Sparki Garlinghouse had a habit of turning on the recorder on her cellphone whenever she entered the house, and the audio recording includes what sounded like the jingling of keys, the creak of the door, a cough as she clears her throat, repeated gunshots, a death moan and a body hitting the floor.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.