Domestic-violence rapist, kidnapper sentenced

Man didn't see attack at the Value Motel as violent, says attorney

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A Vancouver man was sentenced to 23½ years in prison Tuesday for imprisoning, raping and strangling a woman he was close to at the Value Motel in Hazel Dell.

Greycloud Lawler, 34, spoke for a while during his sentencing in Clark County Superior Court, defending himself and his relationship with the woman.

The pair went to the motel at 708 N.E. 78th St. on Valentine's Day night, when everything apparently went horribly wrong, said Judge Barbara Johnson.

"This is certainly a difficult case," she said. Domestic violence cases are complicated, Johnson said, because they involve people who at one point had a loving relationship.

Johnson said she looked to the conclusions made last month by the jury, which found Lawler guilty on all counts: second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault and harassment. Lawler strangled the 28-year-old woman several times during her captivity and slept against the door of the room with a hunting knife in his hand to prevent her from escaping, according to a court affidavit.

The woman, who sat in the audience at the sentencing, told police that Lawler became violent during an argument and strangled her until she passed out. When she woke up, Lawler kept her in the room against her will and told her that if she screamed, he would kill her, the affidavit says. In the morning, he ripped off her clothes and raped her while she kicked him and scratched at his face, the affidavit says. She said she was strangled a total of seven times.

Prosecuting Attorney Luka Vitasovic asked for a prison term reflecting the full sentence of that crime.

Vitasovic noted that Lawler already has a high offender score, having previous crimes on his record. He argued that the pre-sentence investigation showed that Lawler considered himself a victim of the justice system, had no remorse for what he had done and blamed the victim.

"I never said I wasn't remorseful," said Lawler, who said he believed that methamphetamine use clouded his mental state. "I don't understand a lot of what's going on here."

He explained that he and the victim had a deep connection, and that he helped care for her children. He didn't view what was happening as a violent situation, said his defense attorney Steve Rucker.

"This is a case about lost hope," Rucker said, recalling Lawler's troubled childhood and history of mental health issues. "Here's a person that needed help early."

Johnson said that people have to move on from their troubled pasts and accept adult responsibilities.

The 282-month sentence includes a deadly weapon enhancement. When sheriff's deputies took Lawler into custody after the crimes, he had scratches on his face and had a large hunting knife, the affidavit says.

Besides incarceration, Lawler was ordered to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the Value Motel. He is barred from contact with the victim.

Toward the end of his speech to Judge Johnson, Lawler said: "I know what happened. She knows what happened. And God knows what happened."