John Luebbers's Lawyer Admits his Client Killed Placerville Principal LaCara
Peter Hecht, email@example.com, April 18, 2012
In dramatic testimony this morning, an office clerk at Placerville's Louisiana Schnell School described school janitor John Luebbers bursting in and gunning down the school's beloved principal, Sam LaCara, as the janitor cursed and shouted, "This is for you!"
Dawn Cooper, the prosecution's opening witness in Luebber's Placerville trial, said she saw the custodian enter the principal's office, grip a handgun with both hands and unleash three shots. She said she saw the principal fall to the ground and struggle to get up.
"I came around his desk and he (LaCara) was lying on his stomach...He was trying to push himself up on his elbows," Cooper said.
She added: "I heard the breath leave Sam's body. It just wooshed out."
Cooper described how she dove under her desk during the shooting and then, after rushing to the fatally wounded principal, got up to signal an alarm to put classes on lockdown after Luebbers fled.
Luebbers, the schools former lead custodian, is charged with first degree murder for killing the principal, his longtime friend and golfing partner, in a shocking event that traumatized school children and the community at large.
Authorities say Luebbers, 45, drove home and retrieved a handgun after an argument with LaCara at the school Feb. 2, 2011. Told by the principal to go home and cool down, he instead returned to the school after placing multiple calls to the principal, according to testimony and opening trial statements today.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Joe Alexander said Luebbers delivered the third - and fatal shot - to LaCara's back after his first two shots knocked the principal to the floor behind his desk.
"The defendant walked into Sam LaCara's office with a loaded .357 magnum, pointed a gun at his friend, and shot him to death in his office," Alexander said.
In a surprising admission, defense attorney David Cramer said his client did, in fact, commit the killing, saying it was the result of "a rash impulse" -- but not premeditated murder.
"Yes the facts are ugly in this case, very, very ugly," Cramer said. "Mr. Luebbers shot Sam LaCara. There is no dispute about that. But looks can be deceiving."
Luebbers could ...