Jaime Tinoco-Camarena found guilty of aggravated murder
It took jurors less than a day to decide that Jaime Tinoco-Camarena murdered a Forest Grove woman in 2014.
On Tuesday, jurors found Tinoco guilty on charges of aggravated murder and unlawful use of a weapon in the stabbing death of Nicole Laube, 29.
Laube, who grew up in the Hillsboro area, was handing out flyers at a Cedar Mill apartment complex when she was stabbed once in the chest.
Closing arguments ended late Friday, June 9, and jurors started deliberations Tuesday morning.
Tinoco was 17 when he fatally stabbed Laube in the Commons at Timber Creek apartment complex on Aug. 19, 2014. Laube worked at the complex and was passing out flyers and balloons to residents when she was attacked by TInoco, who lived across the street at the time.
Chris Laube, Nicole Laube's husband, said that after years of waiting for the trial to begin, the verdict came as a "tremendous relief."
"We've been waiting and waiting," he told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "Finally hearing what we had hoped and expected to be said, it helps the grieving process. This starts the next chapter."
Jurors will now have to decide what sentence Tinoco should receive. That phase of the trial began Wednesday morning and was expected to last through the week.
Tinoco could face up to life in prison. Because he was a minor at the time of Laube's death, he cannot receive the death penalty.
Laube's father, Rich Jones, said his family has received letters of support from across the country.
"This community has been absolutely wonderful in their support, their love and their prayers," he said. "We have tremendous, thankful hearts for this community ... I know that Nicole would have been blessed to know that there was this much love out there."
Jones is founder and pastor at Hillsboro's Calvary Chapel Worship Center, 6550 S.E. Alexander St. He said the trial was a tough, emotional battle for his family.
"It's a healing process now," Jones said. "This has been an ongoing trauma for us to get to this point. ... For all of us, we've got to heal and we've got to move on. For her children, they have to rebuild their lives without their mother, That's going to be difficult, but I have a belief and hope that relief is coming."
Jones said he wants to meet with Tinoco's family to help them heal, as well.
"This man has not only hurt us, he has hurt them," Jones said. "Our hearts go out to his parents, who seem to be good people from what I can see. They love their son, and something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. I want to reach them and see how they're doing."
Killing 'felt like a drug'
During closing arguments on June 9, prosecutor Jeff Lesowski said the stranger-on-stranger death "rocked Washington County to its core."
"This was a thrill kill, a sex kill," Lesowski told the jury. "… He didn't sit in his apartment and fantasize about killing somebody. He did it … he went hunting. Let's call it what it is."
Tinoco confessed to the crime, saying he wanted to feel what it felt like to kill someone. Tinoco said he intended to rape Laube, but didn't because she screamed, alerting nearby residents.
"I was drawn to her because of her eyes," Tinoco told detectives during a taped interview. "She was right there, and it was tempting to do it, because of her face."
During his taped confession, Tinoco said he knew Laube had died from her wounds because "he felt it," which he described as an adrenaline rush throughout his body.
"It felt like a drug," he told Washington County Detective Jim George during his confession, which was played before the jury.
Less than a month later, Tinoco raped a woman outside Autzen Stadium in Eugene. He pleaded guilty in that case and is serving 14 years in prison.
While Tinoco's defense argued that police had arrested the wrong man, prosecutors said Tinoco had intimate knowledge of the crime that wasn't released to the media, such as the fact that Laube was carrying balloons and packages of microwaveable popcorn to residents in the area.
"There is no possible way he could have known that unless he was there," Lesowski said.
Tinoco's attorney, Robert Axford, said his client has schizophrenia, and that he wasn't able to aid or assist in his own defense. Washington County Circuit Court Judge Kirsten Thompson found him mentally fit to stand trial.
Tinoco's attorneys said the teen falsely confessed because his illness made him unable to understand the world around him.
Tinoco told police he occasionally heard voices, and during one part of his confession to police claimed that he killed Laube "because my neck hurt."
"He's throwing out word salad. He doesn't know what's going on," Axford said during closing arguments. "He's trying to help the detectives."
Tinoco was arrested months after Laube's death and the deeper he descended into mental illness, the more susceptible he became to police influence, eventually confessing to a crime he didn't commit, Axford said.
"They fed him the details … They said 'only the killer would know this,' but they fed the info to him one by one," Axford said.
Throughout the trial, Tinoco could be heard audibly humming or murmuring to himself, occasionally giggling and smiling as he played with a ball of putty.
Axford said prosecutors were cherry picking the damning parts of Tinoco's confession, but ignoring others which clearly showed his client wasn't in his right mind.
Tinoco told police that he had stabbed another man near Providence St. Vincent Medical Center two days after Laube's murder, for example, although no evidence of such a crime was ever found.
Axford said Tinoco often contradicted himself. During a tour of the apartment complex with investigators — where prosecutors alleged he showed detectives exactly where he committed the crime — Tinoco said he disposed of the murder weapon in two different locations. No weapon was ever found. Tinoco also told investigators he entered the apartment complex from two different entrances.
During an interrogation which was played for jurors, one investigator asked Tinoco what he was wearing at the time of the murder. Laube had told witnesses before her death that her attacker was wearing camouflage-colored cargo pants or shorts.
Tinoco appeared confused by the question and asked the detective for the answer before responding that he'd been wearing jeans.
Lesowski said Tinoco's mental health was not something jurors should consider.
"What bearing does it have on the case?" he said during his rebuttal. "… The jury is only concerned with the evidence and the law."
Confession not taped by police
Jurors watched six hours of taped interviews with Tinoco, in which he confessed several times. But Tinoco's first confession was made during an interview that was not recorded, against Oregon law.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that investigators simply forgot to record the meeting, but Tinoco's attorneys said it was done intentionally so Tinoco could be coerced into admitting to a crime he didn't commit.
"His confession happens in a room alone. With no lawyer, no parent, no video," Axford said.
During closing arguments, Axford said Tinoco was innocent of the crime and other suspects may be responsible.
During the investigation, a man named Taylor Rhodes confessed to the crime. Rhodes was known to carry a knife, had mental health issues and lived in the area.
But Rhodes' confession was deemed false, Lesowkski said, because Rhodes didn't know important details about the case, such as where Laube was stabbed. Rhodes claimed to have stabbed Laube in the genitals, when she had been stabbed in the chest.
Rhodes reportedly suffered a psychotic break during his confession to investigators. He reportedly took off his clothes and ranted about being an angel, according to Lesowski.
Lesowski said Axford's arguments were nothing more than "shiny objects" meant to distract the jury from the truth.
By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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