June 30, 2016 10:40 a.m.
The use of drugs and a mental state also brought on by the lack of sleep apparently contributed to a shooting June 14th on Happy Valley Road.
Thursday morning, a group of law enforcement officials met with the media to release more information in the case.
Deputy District Attorney Kathleen Johnson said that Joseph George of Springfield and Lisa Martin of Eugene had only known each other for a short time before they went on a trip for several days. Johnson told reporters that Lisa Martin said the pair had been doing methamphetamine throughout the trip and that George had not slept for several days and began to act strange. Johnson said George had apparently changed his name to James Wessgert awhile back but was going by both names.
Martin, age 19, said she didn’t know for sure why they approached a house at 2306 Happy Valley Road at around 3:00 p.m. on June 14th though there was some indication that George may have been interested in committing a robbery. Deputy D.A. Johnson said there was no firm connection between George and the homeowner, though they may have lived in the same mobile home park at some point in the past.
As the pair approached the home, which is set well back off the road behind other buildings, George, who was 25 years old, stopped the car a ways back. Martin got out of the car and about the same time, the homeowner, Robert Lanham, came onto his porch and asked the pair to come closer, as he was not sure what they wanted. Kathleen Johnson said Martin stopped walking forward and may have been unsure about what to do next. At that point, Joseph George shot at her several times, hitting her three to four times.
When deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene a short time later, they eventually saw George, who shot at them. Deputies fired back but did not hit the suspect. Kathleen Johnson showed reporters pictures of the area, noting that there was lots of dense foliage, making it hard to see around the rural property. George’s body was found a short time later after Lisa Martin was heading to the hospital.
Sergeant Andy Kenyon of Oregon State Police says that Lisa Martin was released from Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield about five days ago and is expected to make a full recovery. She is not facing any charges related to the case.
District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said a Grand Jury met on Wednesday and heard sworn testimony from seven witnesses. The Grand Jury ruled that the use of deadly force was justified by deputies given the situation. As a medical examiner already ruled that Joseph George died of a self inflicted gunshot wound, Kathleen Johnson noted the ruling meant that firing on the subject in the incident was justified.
Johnson said there may have been more going on which led to the situation, but with George deceased, “we will never know”.