A jury was selected Tuesday in the murder trial of 86-year-old Lawrence Loeffler, who stands accused of killing his wife at their south county home in January.
After more than three hours of questioning, prosecutors and defense attorneys chose eight women and four men to sit on the jury, with a man and woman serving as alternates.
Loeffler, who was in Deschutes County Circuit Court before Judge A. Michael Adler appearing frail and using oxygen tanks to breathe, is accused of murdering his wife, 83-year-old Betty Jane Loefflerthe morning of Jan. 28.
According to police and court documents, Loeffler called 911 around 8:05 a.m. reporting he had shot his wife in the head at their home on Old Mill Road outside La Pine. When county sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found the woman lying face down on the back deck.
A search warrant affidavit states Loeffler told law enforcement officers two versions of the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death. First, the affidavit states, he said the couple was fighting, possibly about laundry, and he feared for his life so he shot her.
The second time investigators asked Loeffler about the shooting, according to the affidavit, Loeffler said he’d overheard his wife on the phone with her daughter and became convinced the women were plotting to kill him. According to the documents, Loeffler described the situation as “survival of the fittest.”
Jacques DeKalb and Matthew Matrisciano will defend Loeffler during the murder case, while Deschutes County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mary Anderson and Deputy District Attorney Matt Nelson will try the case for the state.
On Tuesday, DeKalb asked prospective jurors their opinions of law enforcement and attorneys, as well as how they could determine whether a person has a physical or mental disability or defect, or whether a person suffers from dementia.
Anderson used her time in front of prospective jurors to ask them how they knew when someone was lying and the difference between regretting something and not meaning to do something.
She also pointed to Loeffler’s frailty.
“It is a concern for the state,” she told the prospective jurors. “We’re concerned you’ll look at him, you’ll look at his condition and his age and have sympathy for him, that you’ll say, ‘I feel sorry for the old guy.’ But that doesn’t do anyone any justice.”
The case is expected to continue today with opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense, followed by the prosecution calling its first witnesses.