- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) - When gunfire erupted in an Eastern Oregon plumbing shop in 2011, employee Nathan Carper felt glass hit his face and could taste gunpowder on the fragments, he testified as the trial of a man accused of killing Carper’s boss.

“It burned my lips,” Carper said of the glass.

Then, he said, he saw his employer, Cecil “Rob” Carter, bolt for the door and make it 20 feet outside before collapsing and dying of gunshot wounds.

The defendant, 52-year-old George Craigen, went on trial Monday for murder and other charges, the East Oregonian (https://bit.ly/1sWbW13 ) reported.

Carter, 54, and Craigen were neighbors for years in Milton-Freewater and even drinking buddies until Craigen began blaming Carter for a series of problems, prosecutor Jackie Jenkins told the jury during opening statements.

In the spring of 2011, Jenkins said, 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, Jenkins said, and inexplicably blamed Carter for all of it.

On the morning of the shooting, Jenkins said, Carter noticed fence post holes on his property that Craigen had dug. Carter shook his head, which Craigen saw.

“That head shake was enough to make (Craigen) snap,” she said.

Defense attorney Dean Gushwa said the facts are not in dispute - Craigen shot and killed Carter. But Gushwa has mounted an insanity or extreme emotional stress defense.

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 combination, Gushwa said, can cause a delusional condition, and Craigen obsessed on Carter as the reason his family left.

So Craigen tried to build a fence to keep Carter at bay. When Carter saw the fence post holes, Gushwa told the jury, Craigen did not see a man shaking his head, but instead saw Carter urinating in a hole.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

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

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