Garlinghouse murder case moves forward with new twists

The case of Jason Allen Garlinghouse, 33, of Lebanon, who faces a murder charge in connection with the Feb. 14 death of his estranged wife, Sparki Garlinghouse, has taken a number of turns in recent weeks.

A four-hour hearing to hear pending motions was scheduled for Aug. 18.
Lebanon Local was published before the Aug. 18 court date.

The state has moved to admit statements made by Sparki Garlinghouse to a friend shortly before she was murdered. That motion, to admit victim statements, was filed on Aug. 11.
Sparki Garlinghouse drove to Jason Garlinghouse’s residence on the morning of Feb. 14 to pick up their children for school, according to court documents.

“Because she was nervous about entering into (the) defendant’s house, she activated an audio-recorder on her smartphone,” a court document states. “Unbeknownst to (the) defendant at the time, the victim’s phone audio-recorded the entire incident.”

The state is seeking to enter the statements Sparki Garlinghouse made to her friend “because it details the victim’s fear of (the) defendant; as well as her efforts to plan and take precautionary steps for her future safety.”

On July 11, Jason Garlinghouse requested a new attorney.

His request was denied by Linn County Circuit Court Judge David Delsman.

In a four-page, hand-written letter to Delsman, Garlinghouse stated that “there have been many instances where (he) feels(s)” John Rich, his court-appointed attorney, “has acted inappropriately.”

Rich told a reporter he was previously unaware that Garlinghouse wanted a change in representation.

“The letter was the first I heard about it,” Rich said. “Normally they talk to you about it first.”

Rich said he and Garlinghouse have since talked and he will continue as Garlinghouse’s attorney.

One of the concerns Garlinghouse raised in his letter is about an interaction during a meeting at Linn Count Jail.

“The charge I am facing is obviously extremely severe, and this is appropriately an extremely stressful situation,” Garlinghouse wrote. “Instead of handling this situation seriously, Mr. Rich spent much of this meeting telling jokes and then decided to show me a video on his laptop that he expressed I would ‘find funny.’”

The video was regarding an inmate repeatedly stabbing another inmate, Garlinghouse said.

“We watched a video,” Rich said. “You don’t see any stabbing.”

Garlinghouse said he did not know why Rich thought he would want to see the video or why he would think it was funny.

“I found both the video and his reaction to it to be very disturbing and his actions on that day as highly inappropriate,” Garlinghouse said.

An other issue Garlinghouse raised in his letter is about Rich’s reaction at a hearing pertaining to custody of Garlinghouse’s two children.

“This court appearance was not what Mr. Rich was expecting and ended up being a very short meeting to set a later appearance,” Garlinghouse said.

Garlinghouse said Rich expressed displeasure at attending a hearing for a scheduling “that could have been handled with an email.”

Garlinghouse said a “third event is the most disturbing” to him.

“Mr. Rich attempted to convince me to ignore my innocence and my right to prove my innocence by telling me that if I were to plead guilty to murder that the custody and care of my children could be resolved without further issue,” Garlinghouse said.

Rich did not comment on how Garlinghouse will plead.

“I do not believe Mr. Rich has my best interests at heart and I do not feel he has been acting in my interests or working to prove my innocence,” Garlinghouse said.
Delsman responded to the letter on July 17.

“You have not identified a sufficient basis for the court to remove your current attorney and appoint another,” Delsman said.

A settlement conference has been scheduled on Aug. 29.

A 12-person jury trial is scheduled on the court calendar for Sept. 25.

If convicted of murder, Garlinghouse could face life in prison.

Case history: Suspect called police himself
At 7:05 a.m. on Feb. 14, officers investigated a report that a woman had been shot at 928 Osprey Way, according to the Lebanon Police Department.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Jason Garlinghouse called 911 to report that his wife attacked him and he shot her multiple times.

LPD Chief Frank Stevenson confirmed that Garlinghouse did call in the shooting to 911, but said the suspect did not confess and has not released a statement.

“When we arrived we had him come out and we took him into custody,” Stevenson said.

Garlinghouse was transported to the Lebanon Police Department, where he cooperated with the investigation, according to an LPD news release.

When officers arrived, they found Sparki Garlinghouse lying on the floor at the end of the front entry hallway near the kitchen and living room, according to the affidavit.

She had children’s backpacks and a set of keys clenched in her left hand. Her right hand was open with a large bread knife lying in it, according to the affidavit.

Stevenson said the couple has two young children, who were not home at the time.

LPD Detective Justin McCubbins was granted a search warrant for the residence, which multiple officers, deputies and members of the Oregon State Police Crime Lab assisted in serving.

A black semi-automatic pistol was on the kitchen island near where the body was located.
Eight spent casings were located – five near the body, two at the opposite end of the kitchen floor, and one on top of the refrigerator.

Officers observed at least four round holes in the back of the victim’s torso, according to police.

LPD took Jason Garlinghouse to the Police Department, where he was escorted to an interview room. A detective took digital photos of Garlinghouse’s body and did not observe any injuries. Garlinghouse was wearing a belt-attached gun holster.

Jason and Sparki Garlinghouse were in the process of divorcing and living in separate residences. They were scheduled for an early resolution conference on Feb. 24.

LPD had contact with the Garlinghouses at least six times since September of 2016 regarding custody and other divorce-related issues, according to police reports.