- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) - A 52-year-old man was convicted Wednesday night of murder in a fatal 2011 shooting at a plumbing shop near Milton-Freewater, Oregon.

Umatilla County jurors deliberated for nearly four hours before finding George Craigen guilty of murder and related charges in the death of Cecil “Rob” Carter, the East Oregonian reported (https://is.gd/OqOSDM ).

Both the defense and prosecution agreed that on Dec. 30, 2011, Craigen stood outside the office of Carter’s plumbing business and fired eight rounds from a handgun. Five bullets hit Carter, killing him moments later.

Defense lawyer Dean Gushwa told jurors his client suffers from brain damage and delusions that led him to feel Carter was out to ruin his life.

Circuit Court Judge Russell West of La Grande set sentencing for Monday.

Craigen was also charged with unlawful use of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and obliterating identification marks on a firearm. Jurors found him guilty on each count. He remained quiet while the verdict was read.

The victim’s two daughters, his brother, other family members and friends hugged and cried when they heard the jury’s decision.

Daughter McKenzie Marly said they were tears of relief.

“I feel like we can finally say goodbye,” she said.

Prosecutor Jackie Jenkins told the jury in opening statements that Carter and Craigen were neighbors for years in Milton-Freewater and even drinking buddies until Craigen began blaming Carter for a series of problems.

Jenkins said that in the spring of 2011, Craigen’s girlfriend left and took the couple’s 5-year-old daughter. Craigen soon went to jail on a weapons charge and fell behind on his mortgage. The prosecutor says Craigen inexplicably blamed Carter for all of it.

Defense lawyer Gushwa said Craigen was an alcoholic and lead had accumulated in his body from his years as an industrial painter, damaging the part of the brain that helps recognize the consequences of actions.

The trial began with jury selection Sept. 15.

___

Information from: East Oregonian, https://www.eastoregonian.info

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