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November 7, 2013
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Investigation links Tri City homicide with pot robbery

A robbery plotted to forcibly grab medical marijuana led to the homicide of a Tri City man in October, according to allegations in an arrest report made available today.

In an interview last week with detectives, Buford Thomas Harper, 27, said he accidentally killed William Joe Bruton, 57, while restraining him in a choke hold, according to the report filed in Douglas County Circuit Court.

Bruton was found dead in his home in the 100 block of Ulam Lane on Oct. 20.

Buford, William “Billy” Christopher Aguayo, 21, and Jarrad M. Ramsey, 21, have been charged with murder. All three are Myrtle Creek residents. Aguayo and Ramsey were arrested Friday, one day after Harper’s interview with detectives. Harper was already in jail on suspicion of a probation violation.

The three were also charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a Class A felony.

According to the arrest report, Harper asked to speak with detectives and said he, Aguayo, Ramsey and two other men went to Bruton’s residence to rob him of his medical marijuana.

The other men are not identified in the report. Sheriff’s spokesman Dwes Hutson said today investigators are trying to determine whether other people were involved.

Harper said that the group had planned for him to restrain and tie up Bruton while Aguayo and the other two men found and took the marijuana. Ramsey was to drive the getaway vehicle.

While restraining Bruton, Harper said he repeatedly struck Bruton in the head and face, but Bruton resisted, so he put him in a choke hold.

Harper told detectives that when he realized that Bruton was not breathing, he attempted CPR, but couldn’t revive Bruton.

The men then took the marijuana and left the home, according to the report.

Detectives interviewed Aguayo and Ramsey on Friday.

Aguayo told detectives the four went inside the residence wearing ski masks and gloves, according to the report. Bruton was sleeping on a couch, and Harper started beating him, Aguayo told detectives.

Aguayo said Harper, upon realizing the Bruton was not breathing, tried to revive him by slapping his face, hitting him in the back and pushing on his stomach.

Ramsey told detectives he drove the others to Bruton’s residence and waited in the vehicle while the others went inside.

All three are in Douglas County Jail and being held without bail.

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or bswanback@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Nov 11, 2013 02:13PM Published Dec 3, 2013 05:45PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.