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Man charged in homicide of roommate.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

A man accused of contributing to the death of his roommate during a dispute at their west Eugene home over the weekend was arrested Wednesday in Washington on a charge of second-degree man- slaughter.

Eugene police found Robert Martin Pilaczynski Jr., 42, staying at his mother's home in Woodland, Wash., and took him into custody about 12:30 p.m. with the help of local officers.

Pilaczynski is charged in the death of Aaron Daniel Anderson, 31, a former teacher at Laurel Elementary School in Junction City.

He will be taken to the Lane County Jail and held on the manslaughter count until he is formally arraigned. Police chose second-degree manslaughter instead of a more severe charge because it's not clear Pilaczynski meant to cause his roommate's death when he allegedly placed him in a choke hold Saturday night.

"In a manslaughter case, you're typically dealing with reckless conduct that results in someone's death," Sgt. Scott McKee said. "At this time, that's the charging mechanism we're most comfortable with."

An autopsy showed that strangulation was one cause of death, but the medical examiner was awaiting toxicology test results before making a conclusive ruling, McKee said.

Anderson's fiancee, Amber Kay Merrill, 28, said the couple had planned to marry today at the house at 1260 Waite St., which Anderson owned and in which he died.

A graveside ceremony was held Wednesday in Lebanon. Merrill said Anderson's family asked her not to attend.

Anderson had been a respected teacher at the elementary school, where he taught first, second and third grades for four years.

But he resigned in January before district officials could fire him, Merrill said. She said the district had problems with his ethics. A district official said earlier that she could not discuss his personnel record.

Neighbors said the house shared by Anderson, Pilaczynski, Merrill and her two daughters - ages 5 and 8 - had become a source of trouble in recent months with disputes, trash piling up, a constant flow of traffic to and from the house, and allegations of drug use.

Several neighbors called police and Services to Children and Families to report their suspicions of methampheta- mine use by adults in the house.

"I'm driving home every day from work, and I'm thinking what a waste," said Bill Cramer, a neighbor frustrated by activity at Anderson's house. "If people only knew what drugs really do to a person."

Neighbors said the trouble began in November or December.

According to police records, officers had been sent to the house seven times since Dec. 14.

In one case on Feb. 11, someone reported conditions that might be detrimental to children. Anderson was cited for dumping trash that attracted rats in his backyard, police spokeswoman Kerry Delf said.

In another case, Merrill's mother called from Baker City to ask officers to check on her daughter. She was concerned for her welfare.

Merrill met Anderson, who was her daughter's second-grade teacher, in December. They were engaged by February, the same month she and her daughters moved into the house. She said Anderson grew angry Saturday night and was yelling and screaming. "Aaron was crazy - the last fuse had been blown," she said. She said he wasn't violent.

A neighbor called police about 10 p.m. to complain about a loud dispute at the house. By the time officers arrived, Anderson was dead.

Merrill said Pilaczynski wasn't home when the yelling first started but at some point entered the house and took hold of Anderson. She said Anderson had told Pilaczynski to move out in February, but the older man continued to live in the house anyway.

"I witnessed a sleeper hold, like wrestlers do around the neck," she said.

Services for Children and Families took custody of Merrill's daughters on Monday.

Anderson was born in Eugene and graduated from South Eugene High School and the University of Oregon. He earned a master's degree from Pacific University in Eugene.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Eugene police find Robert Martin Pilaczynski at his mother's Washington home
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:662
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