BEND, Ore. - ODOT Project Manager Robert Townsend continued his testimony Tuesday morning as a pretrial evidence hearing in the Edwin Lara murder case began a second week.
The hearing is to decide whether or not certain evidence, primarily an interview conducted in Northern California at the time of his arrest, with a supposed confession to the killing of Bend resident Kaylee Sawyer, is admissible at a trial now slated to begin in October 2018.
Townsend was questioned about the road project that was occurring around the time Sawyer’s body was found off of highway 126 in Redmond. nearly a year ago
Last July 26, the day Sawyer's body was found, was when the first survey occurred on the chip-seal project.
Bend Police Department Detective T.J. Knea testified next.
Knea was a part of the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team that was called in during the Sawyer investigation.
The top goal was to locate Sawyer, as well as Lara, when the Major Crimes Team was assembled for the case. They attempted to ping the cellphones of the two individuals they were looking for.
“Well, to me, the top goals were twofold of locating Kaylee Sawyer, potentially alive," Knea said. "Or if she was deceased, locate her remains, in addition to locating Edwin Lara, who at this point was considered a fugitive.”
Lara’s cellphone returned a ping on Lancaster Drive in Salem, where his car was later found. Knea was tasked to then go to Salem to look for a note in Lara’s car that may have given clues to the whereabouts of Sawyer's body.
Before Knea was able to go, Lara told investigators the location of Sawyer’s body. Knea drove to the location on Highway 126 and found her remains.
Knea eventually made his way to the car in Salem and searched it. Knea found a note Lara left behind with clues to the location of Sawyer’s body, compiling more evidence against Lara among other items linking Lara to the car.
"On the front passenger floorboard, I located a Central Oregon Community College public safety shirt," Knea said. "With name plates on that, stating Edwin Lara’s name.”