By CHRIS COLLINS
Grant Gallaher will spend at least the next 35 years of his life in prison for the April 4 murder of Lori Hayes-Kotter, his supervisor at the Baker City Post Office where he was employed as a letter carrier, and the attempted murder of the postmaster. Gallaher, 41, pleaded guilty Friday in Baker County Circuit Court before Judge Greg Baxter to murder and attempted aggravated murder.
Gallaher admitted shooting Hayes-Kotter to death with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun and attempting to use the gun to kill Michael McGuire, Baker City postmaster.
In pleading guilty, Gallaher accepted an agreement with the district attorneys office that will require him to serve a life sentence, with a 25-year minimum prison term, for murdering Hayes-Kotter. He also agreed to a consecutive 10-year mandatory prison term for his attempt on McGuires life. Gallaher was represented by Geoffrey Gokey, a Redmond attorney, and Dennis Hachler of Pendleton. As part of the plea agreement, Gallaher waived his right to appeal, except on the grounds that he was not adequately represented by counsel. He told Baxter during Friday's proceedings, however, that he was satisfied with the representation he received from Gokey and Hachler.
Baxter instructed the state to return two computers seized by police during the investigation to Gallahers family. The handgun used in the shooting will be forfeited to Baker City Police. The judge also imposed court fees of $774 and fined Gallaher $500 as part of his sentence. The maximum fine for the crimes is $375,000. Gallaher's attorneys asked the judge for leniency regarding the fines because of the hardship a larger amount would place on Gallaher's family.
In exchange for the guilty plea, federal authorities agreed not to prosecute Gallaher further, and a grand jury that has been held open to consider other possible charges will be closed, Shirtcliff said.
Investigators believe the 46-year-old McGuire, who was out of the building at the time, was Gallaher's intended target the afternoon of April 4 as the letter carrier returned to the post office upset about Hayes-Kotter's decision to add extra work to his delivery route. Shirtcliff said Gallaher first struck Hayes-Kotter with his postal vehicle as she walked across the back parking lot of the David J. Wheeler Federal Building at about 4:15 p.m. Hayes-Kotter, 49, was knocked down and seriously injured at that point, Shirtcliff said. Gallaher then entered the post office with a gun looking for McGuire. Gallaher left the building after failing to find the postmaster and returned to the parking lot where he shot Hayes-Kotter several times at close range.
Had Gallaher killed McGuire also, he would have been charged with aggravated murder and could have faced the death penalty, Shirtcliff said. Because of the brutality of the murder, Shirtcliff said he was not willing to negotiate for less prison time than provided under Oregon law. andquot;We made a decision that the maximum sentence is what should be imposed and we never wavered from that,andquot; he said.