Man gets 9 months for helping suspects in Benton City murder

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 7, 2014 

A 19-year-old man will serve nine months in jail for helping two wanted men get a ride to Oregon after a Benton City slaying and keeping the victim's stolen pistol.

Tyler Lynn Isom was taken into custody Thursday after he was sentenced by Judge Vic VanderSchoor.

The Benton City teen, who turns 20 in one week, pleaded guilty last month in Benton County Superior Court to second-degree rendering criminal assistance and possessing a stolen firearm.

In the days after Michael Edwards was fatally stabbed, Isom reportedly admitted to Benton County sheriff's detectives that Noah Matlack and Noel Gonzalez had been at his home Sept. 8 when Matlack said he was going to stab and rob Edwards.

Matlack and Gonzalez left at 10 p.m., indicating they were going to meet Edwards, and returned about four hours later.

The pair told Isom "that Mr. Matlack stabbed Mr. Edwards to death, then they went to Mr. Edwards' residence and burglarized it," court documents said.

Matlack then gave a .22-caliber Luger semi-automatic pistol and some other items to Isom, documents said.

A .22-caliber gun was taken from Edwards' home safe, which was pried open with a buck knife.

Edwards, 55, was cut and stabbed 26 times in the parking lot of the Assembly of God church in Benton City. A neighbor found his body eight hours later behind a shed on the church property.

Edwards lived alone not far from the church.

Gonzalez, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He claims he didn't see the stabbing, but knew his friend's plans and was there "ready to assist if needed."

Gonzalez was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in state prison.

Matlack, 18, is scheduled for trial April 28 for first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege he's the one who "violently stabbed" Edwards.

The pair stayed at Isom's home after the killing until 10 a.m. Sept. 9. At the same time investigators were collecting evidence at the murder scene following the discovery of Edwards' body, Isom was arranging a ride for Matlack and Gonzalez to Hermiston with a neighbor, court documents said.

Matlack and Gonzalez reportedly contributed $40 in gas money for the ride.

Isom acted with intent to prevent the apprehension of Matlack and Gonzalez and knowingly accepted property taken from the victim's home, documents said.

The pair were arrested at an Oregon truck stop, reportedly on their way to California.

Isom was arrested Sept. 12 after detectives searched his home and recovered some stolen property.

He initially was charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance, but that was reduced to second-degree as part of plea negotiations.

Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor explained in court documents that Isom has no prior criminal convictions, has cooperated with law enforcement and has "given statements implicating his acquaintances in a murder."

Without a reduction, Isom would have been looking at a one-year prison sentence.

Bloor added that sheriff's Detectives Lee Cantu and Scott Runge supported the amendment, which should hold Isom accountable.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531;; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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