Three convicted of Linn murder

Article author: 
By AnneMarie Knepper
Article publisher: 
Albany Democrat-Herald
Article date: 
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
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The three men accused in the killing of Jose Felipe Hernandez-Leiva were found guilty of murder Tuesday afternoon in Linn Circuit Judge Carol Bispham’s courtroom.

Edgar Hernandez-Mendoza, 25, Abiu Antonio Padilla, 38, and Jose Juarez-Alvarez, 30, beat Leiva to death during a drunken argument April 30, 2011, at an apartment within a warehouse in Harrisburg where they all lived while working together picking salal.

The jury began its deliberations about 2:30 Monday afternoon and recessed at 6 that night. It met at 9 a.m. Tuesday and returned with its decision about 3:30 p.m.

Bispham polled each juror asking if a verdict had been reached for each defendant and if the juror agreed with that verdict for each defendant.

All agreed and a verdict of guilty of murder was read aloud.

The verdict was translated simultaneously into Spanish using an interpreter. The defendants showed no emotion upon hearing it.

“I know it’s been a long case,” Bispham said to the jury. “It’s been a difficult case for you, I can see it in your faces as you are listening.”

“It’s not easy and it’s not always pleasant,” she continued. “But it’s what makes our system work.”

The judge said she would be in the jury room to thank each juror personally.

Sentencing was set for 11 a.m. Thursday, April 26, in courtroom 1. The mandatory sentence for murder in Oregon is life in prison.

According to trial testimony by material witness Luis Martinez-Jimenez, Leiva was still moaning when he implored the other men to not hit Leiva so hard. He testified he told the men to stop or they were going to kill Leiva. He then went to bed.

When he got up the next day, he said he saw Leiva’s lifeless body outside.

The three men then put the body in a sleeping bag, wrapped it with twine and dumped it in some brush nearby — between Interstate 5 and the warehouse on Belts Drive.

Three weeks later, a man out searching for a pet cat discovered the body.

On May 25, 2011, Hernandez-Mendoza and Juarez-Alvarez were arrested on the job at Stahlbush Island Farms near Corvallis. Martinez-Jimenez was also arrested at that time for the lesser charge of hindering prosecution.

Padilla was arrested June 16 at an apartment in Marion County.

The men were being lodged at the Linn County Jail.

George Eder and Douglas Marteeny prosecuted.

Hernandez-Mendoza was represented by Nicolas Ortiz of Corvallis, Padilla was represented by Randall Vogt of Portland and Juarez-Alvarez was represented by John Rich of Corvallis.