A Dallas man originally charged with murder for the February shooting of an Albany woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Linn County Circuit Court to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.
Eric Rodriguez-Najar, 38, also pleaded no contest to first-degree assault.
Charges of unlawful use of a weapon - firearm and fourth-degree assault are set to be dismissed at sentencing, which was scheduled for Friday.
Per terms of the negotiated settlement, Rodriguez-Najar will serve 17-and-a-half years in prison, the mandatory minimum for the charges he pleaded to. Oregon judges aren’t bound to honor the terms of plea deals, but they almost always do.
Mary Alice Taylor, 59, was shot to death in her home in the 1100 block of Lafayette Street Southeast in Albany on the afternoon of Feb. 28. Her daughter, Lani Taylor, 36, Rodriguez-Najar’s ex-girlfriend, suffered a gunshot wound to her arm.
Defense attorney John Rich said his client’s actions were more reckless than intentional, and added that the negotiated settlement likely would have been similar to the outcome of a trial, had the case gone before a jury.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for my client,” he said.
A neighbor said that Mary Taylor had let her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and their two children move into her home. Mary Taylor had moved into a recreational vehicle on the property so her daughter’s family could have the run of the house.
According to court documents, on the day of the fatal shooting, Lani Taylor told Rodriguez-Najar that she was seeking a restraining order against him.
He initially beat her, but later pulled a pistol out and began firing in her direction inside the residence, Lani Taylor told authorities. She ducked into a bedroom, but not before being shot in the left forearm.
Her mother was standing behind her and was killed by the gunfire, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.
Rodriguez told authorities that he pulled out a gun and then observed Mary Taylor retrieve a cellular phone and start to call 911, the affidavit states.
He said he reached for the cellphone, but Lani Taylor reached for the gun, which discharged multiple times, according to the affidavit.