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 make-shift fence separating their yards in the rural community of Kerby, the Grants Pass Daily Courier reported.
Arguments during the trial focused on what happened between the neighbors during several crucial seconds along the so-called "fence from hell" that consisted 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 toward Estes.
"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 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," Turner told jurors.
Estes, 59, and his wife lived on a property formerly occupied by Kenneth Vaughn - a neighbor fatally shot by Easley in 2009. That shooting was ruled a justified case of self-defense.
The Estes shooting was preceded by about a year and a half of disputes that started when Estes unplugged a security light of Easley's that was disrupting his sleep. Other points of contention were about cats, Chihuahuas, garbage and the use of a leaf blower by Easley at odd hours.
At one point, in reference to the 2009 killing, Estes put up a plywood sign bearing the word "murderer." It pointed toward Easley's house.