Marijuana grower convicted of attempted murder – Mail Tribune

Posted on: May 4th, 2012 by admin No Comments

May 04, 2012

Sanne Specht

A jury on Thursday found a former Gold Hill man guilty of attempting to kill his former neighbor in a dispute over a medical marijuana growing operation.

A Jackson County Circuit Court jury found Gerry Howard Lee, 46, guilty of the attempted murder of Robert Pearce by a vote of 10-2. Jurors also found Lee guilty of two counts each of unlawful use of a weapon and menacing, but not guilty of a second attempted murder charge related to Pearce’s teenage son.

Judge Timothy Gerking sentenced Lee to 90 months in prison for the Measure 11 charge and ordered him to pay $3,500 in fines and fees. Lee was also given lesser concurrent sentences on the other four charges with credit for time served.

“What you did that night was every parent’s worst nightmare,” Gerking said Thursday afternoon, adding Lee’s escalation of events on Dec. 21 was “inexplicable.”

According to witnesses in the two-day trial, Lee became enraged at what he perceived as harassment from Pearce over Lee’s legal marijuana garden. At Pearce’s insistence, Lee had moved the growing operation from his parents’ property on Foots Creek Road, which adjoins Pearce’s, to a site in the Wolf Creek area.

But on Dec. 21, after a helicopter circled over the new grow site, Lee decided Pearce was tracking him — and that Pearce should die, Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert told jurors.

An enraged Lee called his mother that day and threatened to kill Pearce. Then he drove the 33 miles to Pearce’s property, got out of his pickup, chambered a round in his handgun and pointed it at Pearce’s 18-year-old son, who was working on a Jeep in the family’s garage with a friend, Heckert said.

Pearce said Lee’s mother, concerned over her son’s threats, had come to warn him. Soon after, Lee’s pickup raced down his driveway, and Pearce heard the man threatening murder as he raced to the garage to find Lee pointing a gun at his son, who was pleading for his life.

“I told him “I’m over here! It’s me! It’s me you’re after!,” Pearce testified he told Lee, desperate to draw his attention away from Bobby.

Lee swung the gun toward Pearce and advanced, threatening to kill him, he said.

“He said ‘I’m going to kill you. I should have killed you a long time ago,” Pearce said. “I saw his finger very clearly going into the trigger guard. Things get pretty slow motion when you think you’re going to die.”

Bobby, believing he was about to see his father murdered, sprang from his hiding place and tackled Lee, Pearce said.

Pearce knocked the gun from Lee’s hand as they scuffled. Lee was overpowered by the father, son and a friend of Bobby’s who was in the garage during the incident. Pearce’s wife called police.

Lee did not testify on his own behalf. His defense attorney, Matt Taylor, noted the officer who arrested Lee that night charged him only with menacing.

Taylor argued that his client was guilty of menacing both father and son. Perhaps jurors might find Lee guilty of unlawful use of a weapon, he allowed in his closing argument. But Lee never fired a shot, and he should not be convicted of attempted murder for his thoughts, ideas or beliefs, Taylor said.

“Attempted murder is where you shoot somebody and the emergency room doctor performs a miracle,” Taylor said.

Heckert argued Lee had taken substantial steps toward attempted murder of both father and son. Ten jurors believed Robert Pearce was Lee’s intended target that night.

Lee declined to speak at his sentencing. He offered no explanation and expressed no remorse.

“This is a sad day for the Lee family,” Robert Pearce said. “But it could have been a very, very sad day for my family.”

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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