Convicted murderer to spend the rest of his life in prison
George Loader killed a man - and cut up the body
7/18/2014 6:02:00 AM
By Doug McMurdo
KINGMAN - George Allen Loader, the man a Mohave County jury in May found guilty of one of the most gruesome murders in Mohave County history, will never again be free - even if he lives forever.
Judge Steven Conn on Thursday in a lengthy hearing sentenced Loader to natural life, meaning he will never be released from custody, and for good measure - and state law that Conn admitted seemed absurd given the circumstances - tacked on 19 more years for other crimes the jury found Loader guilty of having committed.
Loader, 37, killed John Oppenheim, 51, on Nov. 21, 2011, by shooting him in the neck with a shotgun.
Loader then took actions that shocked the community and devastated two families. About 24 hours after the killing, Loader took a handsaw and decapitated Oppenheim and severed his limbs.
He then stuffed the mutilated body into a chest of drawers, drove to a dirt bike track several miles north of the Butler area off Bank Street, and set fire to the corpse.
"This wasn't just a murder," said Conn, a veteran judge who has heard thousands of cases in his lengthy career. "You shot the victim and cleaned up the mess, and then waited 24 hours to mutilate the body in a way that is just horrible to contemplate, and then took it to the desert and burned it ... I believe the severity of what you did (merits) that you never be released from custody again."
Conn also sentenced Loader to a term of 12 years on the charge of misconduct with a weapon and seven years on a charge of abandonment of a dead body.
Loader has at least four prior felony convictions and is prohibited from owning weapons.
Loader, who has been serving a five-year term for physically assaulting a niece in 2011, must complete what's left of that sentence before he begins his life sentence.
Conn also structured Loader's sentence to ensure he spends the bulk of what's left of his life in prison in the event Loader successfully appeals his sentence of natural life.
Even if a higher court reduces that sentence to 25 years to life, Loader would have to serve at least 44 years before he is eligible for a parole hearing.
Conn's courtroom was packed with spectators, with the defendant's family and friends on one side of the gallery and Oppenheim's family on the other.
Tensions were high and security was tight, with several jail correctional officers, courthouse security personnel and detectives taking up strategic positions in the courtroom. Courthouse security asked Oppenheim's family to wait in the courtroom until Loader's supporters left the area.
The sentence seemed to take an emotional toll on everyone involved. Loader's mother quietly wept and used a red bandana to wipe tears from her eyes after Conn sentenced her son to life without parole.
Prior to that, two of Oppenheim's three children and their mother told the judge how they have been affected by the killing.
Angel Trumble said she and Oppenheim fell in love when she was 14 and he was 15. They would later have two girls and a boy.
She asked Conn to sentence Loader to a term that would guarantee he would never get out of prison.
Daughters Savannah Trumble and Amy Garcia asked for the same.
All of them continue to have nightmares.
The family has had to deal with two horrific issues with the death of "JoJo," as friends and family knew the victim, and they all addressed it at Thursday's hearing, albeit through sobs they could not control despite the written statements they all prepared ahead of time.
The manner in which Oppenheim died and what happened to his body afterward continue to haunt their sleep.
"I keep dreaming of his head rolling around, burned," sobbed Amy.
"I dream I see his beautiful smile, his beautiful eyes, and then the next thing I know I see that he has no face," said Angel.
After the hearing, Savannah, whose emotional state was elevated even higher after learning she is pregnant just last week, continued to sob.
She told the Miner she doesn't believe Loader's family cares about the pain George Loader caused, and she's angry that they will be able to visit him in prison and write letters.
She also agreed that counseling might be a benefit, because while Thursday brought justice and a small sense of closure, she intuitively knows this is not the kind of ordeal that's easily overcome.
The family also bristles at allegations Oppenheim molested Loader's daughter, who was a toddler at the time.
Loader's defense was that he confronted Oppenheim after the 2-year-old said he molested her, and during the fight Oppenheim grabbed the shotgun and it fired, hitting him in the neck.
A medical examination of the child did not reveal any signs of molestation, but doctors were not able to rule it out, either.
Oppenheim's family knows with absolute certainty that he was not the type of man to harm children.
He has no history of sex crimes in his background.
Loader's family doesn't know if Loader's daughter was molested, but they do know that Loader believed it and that's what made him snap.
Conn put things in perspective when he noted it really doesn't matter what occurred, if anything.
Loader had no right to take the law into his own hands any more than Oppenheim's family could get away with retaliating against him for killing him.