Saul Morales pleaded guilty to murdering Woodburn resident Brenda Bautista

MCSO - Saul MoralesCOURTESY PHOTO - Brenda BautistaA Hubbard resident has been sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty this month to the murder of a Woodburn woman in 2015.

Saul Morales, 29, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

He wrote in a petition to enter plea document on Feb. 1 that as a felon, he was in possession of a firearm around Oct. 12, 2015.

"I caused the death of Brenda Bautista who was a witness against me with a firearm," he wrote.

The lifetime sentence, which was handed down Feb. 5 by Judge Thomas Hart, stipulates that the earliest possibility of parole will be after 38 years.

In October 2015, the body of 36-year-old Woodburn resident Brenda Bautista was found by a passer-by on Pirelli Lane Northeast, a gravel road near Hubbard that runs parallel to Interstate 5.

A few days after Bautista's body was found, an autopsy determined that she had died of multiple gunshot wounds. The Marion County Sheriff's Office announced it was investigating the case as a homicide.

Morales, 29, was identified as the sole suspect in the murder in October 2016, when he was indicted in October 2016 on one count of murder. A grand jury changed the indictment to the more severe charge of aggravated murder in November 2016.

The November indictment states that Bautista "was a witness in a criminal proceeding, the death being related to the performance of Brenda Bautista in the justice system."

Morales was already being detained in the Oregon State Penitentiary where he has been serving sentences for unrelated charges of felon in possession of a firearm, which he pleaded guilty to in January 2016, and fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, which Morales pleaded guilty to in May 2016.

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