GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A Southern Oregon man has been found guilty of murder in the shooting of his neighbor in a long-running feud.
A jury Thursday rejected the self-defense argument of Donald Easley in the Sept. 7, 2013, shooting of Laron Estes at a makeshift fence separating their yards in the rural community of Kerby.
Arguments during the trial focused on what happened between the neighbors during several crucial seconds along the “fence from hell” — made of pallet wood, chicken wire, black plastic and barbed wire.
Easley, 65, who did not testify, told Oregon State Police investigators he was putting barbed wire along the fence when an intoxicated Estes lunged through the plastic tarp and grabbed at his shorts.
Easley said he dropped his hammer, grabbed the pistol he was wearing in a holster, and fired.
“If I didn’t have that pistol, I’d be beat up, maybe dead, on his side of the fence,” Easley told police.
Deputy prosecutor Lisa Turner, however, said Estes had backed his pickup truck to the fence to make some repairs and was standing in the bed of the truck when he heard Easley on the other side of the fence. When Estes realized Easley had a gun, he started running, she said.
“Mr. Estes was shot in the back while retreating at a distance,” she told jurors.
Estes, 59, and his wife lived on a property formerly occupied by Kenneth Vaughn — whom Easley shot dead in 2009. That shooting was ruled a justified case of self-defense.