A verbal dispute that lead to the shooting death of a 66-year-old woman Thursday by her neighbor outside her mobile home in the Frost Road Trailer Park east of Winlock was apparently over a disagreement about wood stove coals being dumped in nearby woods.
Richard Joseph Frank Roth, 65, allegedly shot and killed Jackie Marie Lawyer at 10:55 a.m. with a .22-caliber pistol while Lawyer stood holding a cup of coffee on a roadway in the trailer park. (Roth has no relation to Richard Lewis Roth, a potter who also lives in the Winlock area.)
On Friday afternoon, Roth appeared before Judge James Lawler in Lewis County Superior Court for first-degree murder. He is being held in the Lewis County Jail on bail set at $500,000; his arraignment and trial setting is Wednesday.
Roth, who wore prison orange and his gray hair pulled into a ponytail over his balding head, was pushed into court in a wheelchair. According to charging documents, he told the Lewis County Sheriff's Office he takes medications for his heart, cholesterol and a thyroid.
A resident of Frost Road Trailer Park, which is located about four miles south of U.S. Highway 12 and less than a mile east of Interstate 5, said outside the courtroom that she had never seen Roth use a wheelchair before. The woman wished to remain anonymous.
Charging documents say Roth shot Lawyer in the neck from about three feet away following an argument in which Lawyer accused him of being a "snitch" for telling the trailer park manager that she was dumping wood stove ashes in the woods across Frost Road.
Roth, who reportedly had lived in the trailer park for about two months before the incident, was doing laundry at the time of the confrontation. When it ended, he retrieved a pistol from his van and put it in his back pocket.
Roth told police he was confronted by Lawyer a second time and "I just snapped. I knew that I, soon as I squeezed the trigger, I was in trouble."
Roth and another neighbor called police.
Gene Seiber, a deputy chief in the sheriff's office, said Roth was cooperative when police arrived to the scene.
Roth is described by his defense attorney as a Klamath Falls, Ore., resident who apparently resided in the trailer park on a temporary basis. He had most recently lived in Castle Rock and Baja, Calif.
Roth's criminal history includes convictions for a 1969 escape from Sacramento, Calif., and a 1982 conviction in Sacramento for a felon illegally possessing a firearm.
Frost Road Trailer Park, located on the 700 block of Frost Road, is comprised of about 25 small campers and mobile homes.
In court, at least four elderly women came in support of Roth. They declined to comment.
On Thursday, a man who briefly lived with Lawyer for a month while he renovated a mobile home said he didn't know of Lawyer having any enemies.
"She was the nicest lady you could ever ask for," said Chris Jordy, 36. "She was basically like an adopted grandmother to me."
Roth told police he believed Lawyer was stealing neighbors' belongings at night while dressed up like a ninja.
Lawyer lived alone with a cat and a poodle she just got, Jordy said, adding she has a son in the Sacramento area.
Police said Lawyer was a 12-year resident of the trailer park.