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Albany man sentenced for causing partner’s death

An Albany man has been sentenced to just over six years in prison for negligently causing the death of his girlfriend.

On Wednesday, December 14, Benton County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Donohue sent the verdict 51 years old Charles Lynn Gollher to 75 months imprisonment.

The verdict follows Golliher’s convictions of second-degree manslaughter, coercion and two fourth-degree assaults, all of which were committed against Candi Marie Libke, 35.

Libke’s death

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office initially arrested Golliher in January after the defendant brought a deceased Libke to Albany General Hospital on January 21. Deputies, called to the scene by Albany police officers responding to an 911 call, arrested Golliher on suspicion of assault and strangulation.

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The unidentified 911 caller reported that Libke appeared to have been assaulted and had black eyes and facial trauma.

Assistant Medical Examiner Jeanne Seelye examined Libke’s body and documented a number of injuries, including bruised “raccoon eyes”, a laceration to the chin accompanied by an object blow, bruising to multiple areas of the body at various stages of healing, and rigor mortis in the legs and arms.

Later, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an investigation on Libke and found evidence of manual strangulation.

Interview with Gollher

The Benton County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the case and questioned Golliher, according to the affidavit.

Golliher told detectives he was engaged to Libke and lived with her in his truck, which he parked in an area near Hoskins Road at night. He admitted to being the only one who was with Libke between January 20 and 21.

Golliher said Libke complained of abdominal pain on the morning of January 21. He drove with Libke to his place of work in Alsea and later drove to Corvallis to run some errands. Golliher said Libke lay in the back seat of the truck all day.

He then drove to Fort Hoskins Park in Philomath, where Libke reportedly went to the bathroom. After a few minutes, Golliher went to Libke and found her lying on the floor, according to the affidavit. He told detectives he believed Libke’s facial injuries were caused by hitting her head while sitting on the toilet.

Golliher told detectives he tried to save Libke with CPR and later drove to North Albany with Libke’s body to meet his mother.

Golliher’s mother told authorities when she met with her son, she noticed Libke’s body was stiff with rigor mortis. She told Golliher to either call the police or go to the hospital. He chose the hospital.

During his interview, detectives noted that Golliher’s hand was swollen and bruised, according to the affidavit, and that he was trying to hide his hand.

Detectives also interviewed members of Libke’s family, who reported that Golliher often injured Libke and “beat the shit out of her”.

A family member told detectives Libke confided in him that on August 1, 2020, Golliher choked her until she passed out, leaving her to die. Witnesses to the relationship described her as abusive, according to the affidavit.

The court case

Golliher was originally charged with one count of second-degree assault, two counts of strangulation and two counts of fourth-degree assault.

During the trial, prosecutors added the charge of manslaughter.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Amie Matusko and defense attorney Clark Willes said there was a last-minute change to Golliher’s plea deal.

Golliher pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, and double fourth-degree assault. Matusko said she believes the state could have proved the defendant guilty of first-degree manslaughter, but the autopsy results made that difficult.

“It was the appropriate solution for both parties,” Matusko said. “I think this allows all parties to move forward and heal.”

Matusko and Willes said the autopsy revealed Libke had an internal infection at the time of her death, potentially making her more vulnerable to the injuries Golliher inflicted.

Manslaughter and a number of fourth-degree assault convictions related to the injuries that led to Libke’s death on January 21. The assault and other fourth-degree assault convictions stem from the August 1, 2020 incident.

Before the sentencing, Libke’s mother urged Donohue to hand out the maximum sentence.

“He’ll kill again, I know that,” she said.

Donohue demanded that Golliher pay $3,224 in compensation for Libke’s funeral expenses.

Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_

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