Hot Springs man guilty of deliberate homicide
June 30, 2022
During trial on June 9, a jury found Aaron Eugene McLaughlin guilty of deliberate homicide in the 2020 death of Raymond Wachlin.
According charging documents, on October 7, 2020, McLaughlin called 911, telling dispatch that he had beaten his roommate, Wachlin, and that Wachlin had a “weak pulse.” Hot Springs Police Chief Eric Pfleger responded to the residence, observed McLaughlin standing out at the end of the driveway, and secured McLaughlin in his patrol car. Pfleger knew that Wachlin resided at this location and entered the home to check on him, documents stated, locating Wachlin lying motionless on the living room floor, partially covered by a blanket. Responding medical personnel found Wachlin had no pulse, was cold to the touch, and had bruises at various stages of healing. The coroner later determined Wachlin’s injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma. Pfleger went back to his patrol car, noting a strong odor of alcohol emanating from McLaughlin.
Several witnesses told law enforcement that McLaughlin hadn’t been roommates with Wachlin for very long, that McLaughlin was verbally abusive to Wachlin, and that Wachlin had appeared beaten up several times in the weeks prior to the 911 call, documents show. A witness also heard the two men arguing in the home the previous night, October 6. Wachlin’s landlord told law enforcement that Wachlin was the only person on the lease, but that when he went to drop off a bill at the residence midmorning on October 7, McLaughlin had opened the door, took the bill, and slammed the door in his face. The landlord did not hear Wachlin inside the home at that time.
Charging documents state that when McLaughlin was transported to the Sanders County Jail, he made unsolicited statements that he had “brought that guy back to life,” stating multiple times that he had to kill Wachlin. During the 911 call, McLaughlin had claimed that Wachlin had broken through his bedroom door, which led to the fatal beating.
Law enforcement also interviewed Wachlin’s daughter, who believed that some of her father’s jewelry was missing and that the living conditions inside the home were out of character for what she knew of her father. While emptying the home, she located assorted paperwork and her father’s ID in the bedroom McLaughlin was living in, including unnotarized power of attorney form with a signature that did not match her father’s handwriting. In McLaughlin’s room, a tooth and a sticky note with Wachlin’s social security number, date of birth, and what appeared to be a PIN number written on it were also found.
Judge John Larson presided over the trial, setting sentencing for August 30, 2022.