A man accused of murdering a security guard outside of a west Eugene tavern last year has been found guilty.
A Lane County jury of 12 found Thomas Copeland guilty on all counts, to include murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Copeland, 31, will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 26. The charge of murder is a Measure 11 offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. The maximum sentence is life. The trial began Dec. 3.
Copeland shot and killed Frank Joe Ledgett, 69, of Springfield, just after midnight Oct. 5, 2018 in the parking lot outside of the now-closed Seasons Bar and Grill in the 2700 block of Roosevelt Boulevard. Ledgett was a Springfield resident who owned All-N-One Security. He served in the U.S. Army National Guard and the Marine Corps and worked in the security field for more than 20 years, according to the business’s website.
Copeland was arrested later that day in Harrisburg and has been an inmate of the Lane County Jail since then.
The killing was captured on surveillance video in the bar parking lot as well as on Ledgett’s body camera. Copeland’s defense attorneys had filed motions in the months leading up to the trial to exclude the videos as well as Copeland’s jail phone calls, but those motions were denied.
Copeland’s defense attorney attempted to argue that the killing was in self defense because Ledgett used pepper spray on a person in Copeland’s party, and Copeland feared Ledgett would shoot them. There is no apparent use of pepper spray on the video.
The video shows Copeland and two women leaving the bar and entering the parking lot. Copeland is seen kissing the first woman. Soon after, Ledgett pulls up in his security vehicle. Copeland walks across parking lot and approaches Ledgett as he’s getting out of his vehicle, while a woman behind him does a cartwheel. She runs up to Ledgett, interrupting Copeland and Ledgett’s conversation, asking “Did I do a good flip?” repeatedly. Ledgett asks her and Copeland step back as they are crowding Ledgett back into his open car door. Ledgett explains that he is a security guard, when a second woman comes up between Ledgett and Copeland, saying the group will be leaving in “two seconds.” Copeland and Ledgett are talking back and forth and Copeland seems to become more agitated. The first woman then hugs Copeland in what seems to be an attempt to disengage Copeland. Copeland then pulls out a gun and is seen shooting Ledgett, who falls to the ground.
© 2019 The Register-Guard
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.