by Lou Binninger
There is no other unresolved case creating more suspicion and doubt about law enforcement and the judicial system of Yuba-Sutter Counties than the Sara Matthews Easton death. Did she shoot herself? Was it an accident? Is someone else a suspect? Or, did her husband, Aaron, the former Marysville Chief of Police kill her.
The judicial system requires confidentiality before cases are tried and the evidence can be presented in court. Law enforcement investigates but it takes a prosecutor to review the facts and go to trial.
In this case both Yuba and Sutter County District Attorney’s offices had conflicts to prosecute. Brian and Amanda Hopper were involved with the Eastons. Amanda Hopper was the Sutter County DA and Hopper’s father, Steve Jones, worked in the Yuba County DA’s office.
Then Colusa County District Attorney John Poyner authorized needed search warrants for the investigation and said he would prosecute the crime if it occurred in his county.
Today, Yuba City Police Department still has the investigation while the prosecution was left with the state Attorney General’s office. The five year mark is approaching this August 16th with no disclosure as to what happened to Sara. However, some information has surfaced.
In the early morning hours on Sunday, August 16, 2015 multiple shots were fired in the Yuba City home of Marysville Police Chief Aaron Easton. Aaron, Sara and their three children were in the home.
As emergency personnel arrived, though the back of Sara Easton’s head was blown-off from a bullet wound(s) entering the front right side, she was transported from the bedroom to Adventist Emergency Department and pronounced dead.
Aaron Easton arrived at the hospital neatly dressed without a spot of blood on him. Chief Easton made two calls prior to calling 911. He contacted Brian and Amanda Hopper and Jason Garringer.
Brian Hopper previously worked with Easton at Yuba County Sheriff’s Department and Garringer currently worked with Easton at Marysville Police Department. The Hoppers refused to come to the scene while Garringer was one of the first to arrive.
Amanda Hopper had been a long-time friend of Sara Easton until Sara believed Amanda was having an affair with Aaron. Sara was so distraught that she went to the leaders of her LDS (Latter Day Saints) congregation in Yuba City for help.
There were disciplinary procedures for a parishioner violating proper church conduct. Nothing was required of Hopper. Sara felt helpless, abandoned by the leadership and stopped attending services. She was done with church and Amanda Hopper.
Sara was married to a serial adulterer and believed that her life was in danger from his increasingly aggressive sado-masochistic sexual behavior. She did not trust her husband away from home and was increasingly fearful about his sexual exploitation of her. She confided in others about Aaron’s dangerous demands, both choking her and taping a bag over her head.
Many law enforcement leaders speaking off-the-record believe Aaron killed Sara. Yuba City police investigators say Aaron shot his wife. Some believe Aaron’s behavior following Sara’s death was a classic demonstration of a guilty person seeking to embellish his reputation in order to prepare a defense if accused and arrested.
After Sara’s death Aaron was on a mission. He continuously posted photos of Sara and himself on Facebook and arranged a photography exhibit about Sara at the Arts Council in Marysville. Meanwhile, he was already dating another lady.
He leveraged giving a $400 car to a single mother into a publicity stunt and appeared on television. He solicited and received policing awards.
Why is no agency prosecuting this crime? Who is standing in the way? Some law enforcement people with first-hand knowledge that believe Easton is getting away with murder are afraid to talk. If no prosecution occurs they will die with the details of Sara’s death on their conscience.
Few would argue against the code of confidentiality in police work and the judicial process. However, what happens when the system fails victims, their loved ones and the citizens that remain? People then consider their government corrupt and take care of matters on their own.