Originally Published: May 31, 2014 6 a.m.
KINGMAN, Arizona - A Kingman-area man faces life in prison after being convicted in the shotgun killing of a man whom the defendant thought had molested his young daughter.
A jury on Thursday convicted George Allen Loader of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2011 killing of 51-year-old John Oppenheim, whose sawed-up body was burned in the desert.
In the courtroom, Loader directed a wan smile at his mother and shrugged after the jury returned its verdicts after deliberating for 90 minutes.
A prosecutor told jurors that Loader killed Oppenheim in a rage because he believed Oppenheim molested Loader's 3-year-old daughter.
"There was no physical evidence to indicate there was a molestation," Mohave County Sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Carter said Friday.
Loader's defense was that Oppenheim's death was accidental, that Oppenheim grabbed the shotgun by the barrel during a struggle as the men fought.
Loader allowed Oppenheim to stay with him and his family at a home when Oppenheim was released from jail after he got into a fight and was arrested.
Oppenheim's family thought he was in Los Angeles and didn't learn of his death in Arizona until two months afterward.
Daughter Savannah Trumble, 25, said her father was a drifter who would disappear for a couple of months "and then pop back up."
The daughter said she welcomed the verdict but remains troubled by her father's death.
"I go to sleep thinking about what happened to him," she said.
"It's like something you see in the movies and it hurts so much when I think about what happened to him. It's just been a real struggle for all of us to come to terms with this."
Judge Steven Conn of Mohave County Superior Court judge will sentence Loader on July 17. He faces either natural life in prison or a life sentence with the possibility of early release.
Loader was also convicted of abandonment of a dead body and misconduct with a weapon.