BAKER COUNTY, Ore. - A jury in Baker County has found an Oregon man guilty of trying to kill the father of his grandson earlier this year. Prosecutors described the suspect as 'evil' and the plot to kill 'methodical'.
Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris says Lester 'Earl' Reger, 57, of Ontario, was found guilty of attempted aggravated murder, conspiracy to commit murder, felony possession of a firearm and assault in the second degree. His trial began Monday and the verdict came down Wednesday evening.
Reger is one of four people accused of trying to kill 19-year-old Ramon Fry earlier this year. Fry was shot in the head and back on Feb. 29, but managed to escape and survive the shooting.
Norris says the case and evidence clearly showed Reger planned to kill Fry and cover up the evidence.
"It was the entire methodical plan. It was the plastic. It was packing the car so that they'd have room for the body," Norris said.
Norris says Lester Earl Reger, along with his wife Erlene Reger and two other men, lured Ramon Fry into the Regers' garage. Norris says the garage was plastic-wrapped in advance to hide evidence.
"In 26 years of violence, very few things have scared me as much as walking into that garage that night. It was a death chamber," Norris said.
Norris says Reger pretended to have an injured arm and hid a gun in a sling, then asked Fry for a favor.
"They ask him to pick these three little pieces of wood up [from under a work bench], and when he was down there picking those up, the defendant Earl Reger put the 25-caliber gun up to the back of his head and pulled the trigger and tried to execute him," Norris said.
Fry ran, and Reger shot again, but Fry was able to escape before the rest of the plan went into action.
"Once Ramon Fry was dead, they would have taken the plastic down, wrapped the body up, they had duct tape and additional plastic available. They had a change of clothes laid out in the garage. They also had a change of clothes in the car," Norris said.
Norris says another defendant, Todd Mulvaine, had dug a grave on his property to dispose of the body.
"This was so methodically planned. But for the fact that the first shot didn't kill him, they might have gotten away with this," Norris said.
A judge sentenced Lester "Earl" Reger to more than 11 years in prison, which Norris says is just under the law and available penalties for the crimes committed.
"Probably the best thing I ever heard was when I called the victim yesterday and told him, "We're going to sentence at 10:30 tomorrow morning. Can you make it? And if you can't we'll reschedule." And he just said, 'You know these people have taken enough from me. I have my son tomorrow. You sentence him and tell me what happens," Norris said.
Reger testified in his own defense and said the reason the garage was plastic wrapped was to refinish and spray furniture. He also testified that Fry was who initially had the gun in the garage.
"Next thing I know, I see a pistol in his hand and it goes off. I grabbed the gun from him and he tackles me. As I'm starting to go down, I put the gun to the back of his head and pulled the trigger," Reger testified.
Reger says he was then on his back, and Fry's stood in front of him, so Reger says he raised the gun and fired again.
Norris says the motive was that the Regers believed Fry was abusing their grandchild. That belief was disproved by multiple agencies, but Norris says the Regers still held the belief and wanted Fry gone.
Lester Reger's wife, Erlene, and another man, Todd Mulvaine, were found guilty for their involvement last month. Erlene is currently serving a 90-month prison sentence.
During their trial, the prosecutor said Mulvaine provided the gun and dug a grave for Fry, while Erlene Reger lured Fry into their garage, where Lester Reger shot him twice.
On Thursday morning, a judge ordered Lester Reger to serve more than 11 years in prison for his crimes.