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Man gets life sentence in three Oregon murders

Man gets life sentence in three Oregon murders

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Man gets life sentence in three Oregon murders
Man gets life sentence in three Oregon murders

PORTLAND - A carjacker who killed two men and a teenage girl two years ago was sentenced Wednsday to life in prison without possibility of parole.

A prosecutor told a courtroom packed with grieving family members and friends of the victims that the plea agreement means 23-year-old Shawn Womack will die in prison.

Womack admitted killing two men in separate carjackings in May 2006 and then killing the 17-year-old girlfriend of an accomplice after she had learned about the murders.

Under heavy security, Womack stood briefly in shackles and a jail uniform to plead guilty to two of the murders and accept the sentences imposed by Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric Bergstrom.

The judge read a 10-page plea agreement that outlined Womack's plans to stage robberies with a 9mm handgun purchased by his girlfriend, Jasmine Lesniak, because they needed money while they were students at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany.

Womack admitted killing Chai Taphom, 28, and Michael Burchett, 38, after looking for robbery victims outside a Portland video store.

The wives of both victims made statements in court, but the room was filled mostly with the family and friends of Burchett, an ex-Marine and father of two daughters.

His widow, Sara Burchett, said she was eight months pregnant with their second daughter when police officers came to her door to tell her that her husband had been shot and killed in a robbery.

"There are no words that can describe what I've been through in the last two years,'' Sara Burchett said, struggling to hold back tears as she read a statement across a table from Womack.

"Every moment has been like a knife in my heart,'' she said.

Debra Swanson, Burchett's older sister and his only sibling, said he was a good father and friend, a hard worker and a man torn between duty to his country and making sure his children were not raised without a father, as he was.

Swanson said her brother wanted to re-enlist in the Marines when the Iraq war began, but had already suffered the loss of his mother and his first daughter had just arrived.

"There's absolutely no forgiveness in my heart,'' Swanson told Womack in court, adding the reason was that Womack never asked for it and has shown no remorse.

Womack stole the cars of the two victims with his accomplice, Cevelino Capuia, who was later arrested on an unrelated robbery charge.

Womack admitted he had threatened to kill Capuia and his pregnant 17-year-old girlfriend, Marissa Manwarren, if they told anybody about the two carjackings and murders.

After Capuia was arrested, Womack and Lesniak picked up Manwarren, apparently to give her a ride, but Womack instead drove to a rural area of Benton County, forced the teen out of the car and shot her execution-style.

He then put her body in the trunk of the car, and drove to the Oregon coast near Newport to dump the body.

In a chilling admission contained in the plea agreement, Womack said, "I had told Mr. Capuia that it's better not to leave witnesses and that we may end up killing the victims.''

A separate sentencing is scheduled Friday in Corvallis for the teenager's murder. Capuia and Lesniak face multiple charges in the case.


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