White supremacist James Randall Eckert has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a Hillsboro, Oregon, man last year.
Eckert, 36, of Beaverton, was found guilty of shooting Dennis Steffen in the chest in June 2004. After the guilty verdict was read in Washington County Circuit Court, Eckert, who has a shaved head and sports tattoos of African Americans being hanged and kicked, reportedly said, “at least I’m still breathing.”
According to prosecutors, Eckert’s brother, Payson Michael Young (who will be tried in November for his role in the murder) taped two handguns, including the weapon Eckert used to shoot Steffen, under their car, which was parked near the apartment where the victim was killed.
Eckerts’s former band mate, Thomas Lawe, and Eckert’s girlfriend, Leslie Murray, testified that Eckert sought Steffen because he thought Steffen had raped Murray.
All four fled Oregon and reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to hide in northern Idaho with members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. According to authorities, they also traveled to Nevada and New York City before being apprehended by authorities in Miami in July 2004.
Murray pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in exchange for testifying against Eckert. Lawe pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.