Former Lake Oswego resident pleads guilty but insane after shooting mother and nephew
Wallace, who is using an insanity defense, faces two charges of aggravated murder for the execution-style slayings of Saundra Sue Wallace, 71, and Nicolas Brian Juarez, 16. The defense began calling its witnesses this week.
Defense attorneys David Falls and Laurie Bender planned to show through a series of witnesses that Wallace “suffered from a mental disease or defect and that he lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of the conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law,” according to a notice of their intent to rely on the insanity defense, filed last year.
But last week, jurors heard Wallace’s confession to an emergency dispatcher immediately after the killings, as well as his taped confession to detectives. The jury also viewed graphic images of the crime scene.
In his interview with detectives, Wallace described himself as a shut-in, mainly moving between his bedroom and the garage at his mother’s house on Indian Springs Circle as he self-medicated with alcohol. “I smoke cigarettes and drink beer and try to be invisible,” Wallace said.
The shooting was allegedly the result of a perceived snub. Wallace told detectives that he and Juarez had been discussing World War II, and that his nephew had been dismissive of his take on historical events. Later that afternoon, Wallace said he again felt Juarez was mocking him.
“He wanted to look at a video game I was playing, and then he went back in the bedroom and started laughing, and it was the laughter, I guess, that set me off,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he had long felt snubbed by Juarez, who was described by family members as fun-loving and ambitious. Juarez had traveled from his home in Mountain View, Calif., to visit his grandmother in what had become an annual tradition. Wallace, who was unemployed, and had been living in his mother’s home since 2009.
In the interview with detectives, Wallace often referred to the “Mexican invasion” when speaking of his nephew, who was half Hispanic. He described his mother, Sue Wallace, as a “lesbian, man-hating, man-destroying kind of person,” and in profanity-laden testimony, accused her of contributing to his alcoholism by routinely purchasing beer for him.
Wallace told detectives his argument with Juarez quickly escalated. When his mother and Juarez tried to flee the house, Wallace said, he became enraged by “the fact that they were running away from me again. This is how these people do things. Instead of settling things, they start running, and rejecting and (saying), ‘We’re not going to talk about your problems, we’re not going to help you, we’re just going to kill you,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he grabbed and loaded a semiautomatic rifle, which was described by Clackamas County criminal investigator Walter Martin as “the civilian version of the M14.” Wallace then followed as Sue Wallace attempted to leave with Juarez in her Prius, which was parked in the driveway.
It was there Wallace said he shot his mother six times after she had fallen to the ground outside the driver’s door. He then shot Juarez, who was sitting in the passenger seat, 12 times, he said.
“I was in my right mind when I did what I did. I was angry and I was hateful, and I committed murder,” Wallace told detectives.
When asked why he had chosen that day to kill his mother and nephew, Wallace replied, “It was just the way the kid snubbed me. About everything.”
His testimony to detectives echoed a confession Wallace gave the day of the shootings to emergency dispatcher Megan Pointer, who kept him on the phone until law enforcement officers arrived. “The average murderer is found crying on the … street corner, and that’s where I’ll be,” Wallace told Pointer, who took the stand as prosecutors played a nearly 15-minute recording of the phone call.
Later, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Krummenacker presented a series of crime scene photos, including detailed shots of the victims. Due to the graphic nature of the presentation, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones told jurors they were not required to view the images. Two jurors began crying, and one refused to look at the slideshow.
Krummenacker paused at length and was visibly upset while presenting a photo of Juarez hunched over in the front seat of the Prius. One of Wallace’s attorneys, David Falls, called Krummenacker’s display of emotions an “outburst” and “prejudicial” and asked for a mistrial, but Jones rejected the motion and said he would not instruct the jury to ignore what the defense viewed as Krummenacker’s detrimental behavior.
“This was a sergeant who became briefly emotional,” Jones said, characterizing the moment as “a human reaction to a horrific tragedy.”
The prosecution, led by Clackamas County Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Owen, ended with testimony from Juarez’s parents, capping off the first week of a trial that has been repeatedly delayed due to concerns about Wallace’s mental health.
In September 2013, Jones found Wallace competent to stand trial, despite claims from his attorneys that Wallace was unable to cooperate with his defense team because he believed they were conspiring against him with the prosecution. Jones reversed that decision two weeks later and sent Wallace to the state hospital in Salem for further mental evaluation. Wallace was againcleared to stand trial in December 2013, but his January court date was postponed, and court proceedings commenced exactly two years after the date of the shootings.
Wallace has been held in Clackamas County Jail while awaiting trial. His look is more conservative than he appeared in a mugshot taken the night of the killings, when he had a buzz haircut and an unkempt beard. On Thursday, he wore glasses, a tan checkered sweater and a blue collared shirt, and had a full head of hair.