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Hazelynn Stomps to serve 25 years to life in prison for murdering husband
- Shannon Wells
- Gresham Outlook - News
Jerry Stomps' relatives direct anger, grief toward Hazelynn in courtroom
Corbett resident Hazelynn Stomps will spend no fewer than 25 years in prison for the murder of her husband of 39 years.
Stomps was sentenced Tuesday morning, Jan. 25, in Multnomah County Circuit Court to life in prison - with no eligibility of parole before 25 years - for the early 2009 murder of her 60-year-old husband, Gerald (Jerry).
The sentencing, held one day after a jury found Hazelynn, 57, guilty of shooting, dismembering and burning the body of her husband, the emotionally charged hearing climaxed with several Stomps family members - including her two sons - verbally directing their grief, shock and anger toward her.
Despite objections from Hazelynn (Lynn) Stomps' attorney, Randall Vogt, Judge Richard C. Baldwin allowed the prosecution's request that Hazelynn pay restitution to traumatized family members and compensation for law enforcement agencies that committed resources to investigate a phony abduction case.
Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden requested $1,092 to cover family members' fees for counseling and mental-health services, as well as a $14,381 judgment to compensate the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office for costs related to the initial search for Jerry Stomps.
Baldwin overruled Vogt's objection to the larger of the two figures and approved both requests.
Prosecutors convinced the jury, which deliberated less than five hours Monday, that Lynn's story of Jerry being abducted at Gordon Creek in the early morning of Feb. 6, while a mysterious person tossed her over an embankment, was fabricated.
It was convincing enough at the outset, however, to prompt a massive coordinated search effort for Jerry, who was presumed kidnapped until investigators detected holes in Lynn's story and started searching the couple's Larch Mountain residence.
As during Monday's court appearance, in which Lynn Stomps blinked and slightly shook her head when the guilty verdict was read, she remained stone faced for much of Tuesday's 70-minute hearing.
By the time her and Jerry's youngest son, Adam, 34, took the stand, however, Lynn was less able to maintain her composure and reached for tissues a few times.
'You have destroyed this family, with an act so vile and evil I can't even say the words,' Adam said, leaning forward in his chair and staring directly at his mother. 'No matter how much we begged and pleaded with you' to tell the truth, 'you lied. Even when everybody in the world knew you were lying.
'You are a monster.'
Echoing a theme of several family members who addressed her, Adam Stomps remained incredulous that his mother betrayed no emotion through the entire two-year ordeal.
'You never showed a shred of remorse,' he said. 'I hope that while you spend the rest of your miserable life in jail, you will think about the pain and suffering you have caused.
'And I hope you burn in hell.'
Adam's older brother, Jason, 37, also took the stand but was unable to compose himself enough to say all he had intended. He did express remorse for doubt he originally cast on investigators as they zeroed in on his mother as the prime murder suspect.
'I would like to apologize to the Multnomah County Sheriff's department,' he said softly, before abruptly leaving the stand in tears.
Jason's girlfriend, Angie Sutton, reminded Lynn of how her actions affect her four grandchildren.
'Only you have the answer,' Sutton said, noting how the couple will have to tell Jason's children what happened to their grandparents. 'Do you see the devastation you've caused this entire family?'
Trouble in paradise?
A longtime Larch Mountain resident, Lynn Stomps has been jailed since February 2009, when she became the top suspect in the abduction-turned murder case.
Family members have suggested Jerry had wanted to divorce Lynn as early as 2008, but her Christian beliefs did not allow divorce.
Before Jerry's mother, June, died last summer, she expressed her feelings toward Lynn in a letter from early 2010 that Shari Dallman, Jerry's younger sister, read out loud.
'I do not understand why you didn't just divorce him instead of killing him,' June Stomps wrote. 'How could you do something so cold? This just kills my joy … You are a very cold-hearted soul.'
Scott Stomps, 53, Jerry's younger brother and - family members say best friend - hanged his head as he read a terse statement to his widowed sister-in-law.
'Why? Why did you have to take Jerry from us?' he asked. 'Why couldn't you just leave? You've almost destroyed the Stomps family.
'Whatever the punishment is, it cannot be enough to compensate for Jerry's loss,' Scott added. 'Thank God this is almost over, so we can bury Jerry and get on with our lives - while you rot in jail.'
The family is planning a burial and memorial service with full military honors sometime in February at Willamette National Cemetery in Southeast Portland. Jerry Stomps served in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s.
Gresham resident Chris Stomps, Jerry's first cousin, said while he never heard Jerry and Lynn stomps fight or bicker, he was aware all was not well with their marriage in the summer of 2008.
'Jerry wanted a divorce,' he said. 'I think she had every opportunity to walk out of the relationship.'
An act of deception
The jury appeared to accept the prosecution's contention that the Gordon Creek abduction-assault incident never happened and Jerry had, in fact, likely been dead for a week at that point.
Deputy district attorneys Kirsten Snowden and Annie Schoen argued that Lynn Stomps, sometime around Jan. 31, 2009, shot Jerry twice with his own pistol. She then systematically dismembered his corpse and - through the course of a few days - burned it in large, animal carcass-filled refuse piles and a garbage can on the couple's Larch Mountain property.
When she fell and injured herself after parking her husband's truck near the Gordon Creek bridge, prosecutors contend Lynn was setting the stage with evidence to look as if Jerry went fishing by himself, perhaps drowned in the Sandy River, and never came home.
But Lynn's resulting pelvic injury, which sent her to a Portland hospital, meant she had to alter the story to explain why she too was at the bridge at the crack of dawn, prosecutors said.
She claimed she sat in the truck while Jerry went fishing with a man named 'Dave,' who might be interested in buying the couple's boat, which was back at the house.
An investigation of phone records indicated 'Dave,' supposedly responding to an online craigslist ad, had not called the house, said Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jan Kubic, who testified for the prosecution.
Guilty of murder
On Monday, Scott Stomps fought back tears as he expressed relief upon hearing the jury's verdict.
'We're glad justice was served,' he said, referring to his family who surrounded him. 'For two years we've been living with this, pretty much. This is the beginning of our healing process.'
Jason Stomps said he had a hard time expressing his emotions after two years of guessing and wondering what exactly transpired between his parents.
'How do you put it into words?' he asked.
Believing he last spoke with his dad on Super Bowl Sunday in 2009, he testified he found his father's blood-spattered pistol at the house after Jerry was reported missing. He said it was inconceivable that his father would leave his firearm behind to go meet strangers at Gordon Creek.
'My father believed in his right to keep and bear arms,' he said.
Jason said he and Adam - once they recognized the inconsistencies in her story - pleaded with their jailed mother to explain what exactly happened.
'She would write back and say 'I'm innocent,' ' Jason recalled. 'It was really her letters that condemned her.'
Jason estimated it has been a year since he or Adam had been in touch with their mother.
Few, if any, of Hazelynn Plant Stomps' family attended the Monday verdict reading and none provided comment to The Outlook.
Lynn's sister, Sherry, was seen outside the courtroom before the Tuesday sentencing hearing, but she did not comment to the media.
Vogt, Lynn Stomps' attorney, did not return a call from The Outlook on Monday.
Sutton, Jason's girlfriend, summed up what the Jerry Stomps side of the family had been through since that fateful winter day in 2009.
'It's been two years of absolute hell.'