“She ignored crime victims”: Oregon governor’s scheme to release convicted murderers halted by judge

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MARION COUNTY, OR- Law Enforcement Today has reported several times on Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s mass release of prisoners ostensibly due to “COVID.”

Now, a judge has ordered a pause on Brown’s early release of prisoners, as reported in the Epoch Times. The new order refers to prisoners who committed crimes as juveniles, which grants part of the relief sought in a lawsuit filed against Brown by two district attorneys and four members of homicide victims.

Since March 1, 2020, Brown has granted early release to nearly 1,200 convicted felons, including 10 convicted murderers.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge David Leith ruled earlier this month that Brown unlawfully conferred her clemency powers to the Oregon Parole Board.

“The board lacked delegated authority to hear the parole cases of the offenders at issue,” Leith wrote in his ruling. “It was only the [Governor’s] clemency order that purported to provide that authority.”

Part of the basis for the suit was the fact that Brown had in effect shielded herself from responsibility from accountability for commuting the sentences of inmates convicted of violent crimes, according to Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny.

“What the governor attempted to do was commute [sentences] without having the label that she was the one who released them,” he said in a public written statement.

“The judge found that the governor was exercising her authority improperly,” and releasing those convicted of murder, rape, and child sex abuse,” he continued.

Leith ordered the parole board to “refrain from conducting or carrying out he release process,” which was slated to move forward starting this month, the Times said.

“Governor Brown has misapplied her clemency powers since early 2020,” Kevin Mannix, lead attorney for the petitioners, stated in a brief obtained by The Epoch Times. ‘We have a victory for crime victims in that the Board of Parole will not be able to shorten sentences for 250 violent criminals.”

The suit further alleged that Brown had granted clemency to people who had not requested early release through the legal process.

“Convicted criminals must initiate the process to seek forgiveness and state their case by demonstrating remorse, rehabilitation, and a desire and capability to reasonably re-enter society,” the petitioners claimed.

In addition, the petitioners argued that Brown had failed to notify victims or their families and district attorneys of pending releases as required by law. That part of the suit was dismissed.

“We will continue to challenge Gov. Brown’s willingness to ignore the experienced voices of prosecuting attorneys and the anguished cries of crime victims,” said Monique DeSpain, attorney for the petitioners, in an email to The Epoch Times.

A number of surviving family members joined in on the lawsuit, including Randy Tennant, whose mother-in-law was killed by her grandson when he was 17, and Samuel Williams, whose daughter Jessica was stabbed to death, mutilated, and then set on fire by Carl Alsup, then 17, and two others in 2003.

“I am disappointed that the governor is allowed to ignore the voice of crime victims and district attorneys in the clemency process,” Mannix wrote.

The State of Oregon has said it will appeal the judge’s decision.

“The governor continues to believe that executive clemency is an important tool that can be used to address systemic failures in our criminal justice system while we work to make lasting change, and she will continue to exercise her clemency authority,” Brown’s office wrote in response to the ruling.

“We will cross-appeal to defend what we have won and to continue to push for the right of victims and district attorneys to be heard in the clemency process,” said Mannix.

https://fundourpolice.com/

For more on Brown’s attempt to skirt the clemency process, we invite you to read a previous piece we published.

DIG DEEPER

PORTLAND, OR – Governor Kate Brown has been granted numerous authoritative powers by the Oregon state constitution.

One of those powers is the right to grant commutations of prison sentences. Brown decided to hand that decision-making process off to the state parole board.

This issue wound up in court after a group, Common Sense for Oregon, sued the governor for the attempted expansion of the parole board’s power.

If Brown’s effort had been allowed to pass, there would have been numerous juvenile convicts in front of those decision makers seeking early release.

Citing roughly 250 cases that would have been in front of the board, the group’s president Kevin Mannix said:

“They would have to be going through the discussion of what happened to them, the impact of this crime on them. And they are now going to be relieved of that.”

NFT graphic

As reported by KOIN 6:

“A circuit court judge decided Brown could not transfer her constitutional authority to grant commutations and clemency to the parole board’s discretion. The move would have expanded the parole board’s authority which the judge said isn’t allowed.”

As part of that same lawsuit, the court upheld nearly 1,200 commutations.

Her office said of that decision:

“The Governor is pleased the court’s letter opinion has affirmed that her use of clemency powers was within her authority and upheld every single commutation granted to date, impacting almost 1,200 individuals.”

Despite this, Brown believes that her clemency authority can and should be used to “address systemic failures in our criminal justice system while we work to make lasting change.”

Apparently, she also believes that her authority should be exercised by a group of people who are not granted said authority by the state’s lawmakers.

One of the clemency requests Brown was looking at was that of Lynley Rayburn.

She was convicted of the 2005 murder of 54-year-old Dale Crittendon Rost II. Along with Gerard Smith, Rayburn decided to rob him after they spotted him outside of his home.

Armed with a rifle and high on meth, the couple forced the man inside.

Rost was tied up and brutally killed in his own home.

Court documents show that Rayburn did not pull the trigger. 26 at the time of the murder, Rayburn was sentenced to 25 years to life.

Rost’s daughters have been speaking out against the possibility of clemency from Brown.

“They walked in, and they stripped my dad naked. They tied his hands behind his back, they made sure they had his debit cards and various cards with his pin number. Then, they shot him in the head,” his daughter Kendra Pettit said.

Her sister, Sarah Olson, said:

“I was the one that found my dad how they left him.”

Speaking in regard to the clemency requests on Brown’s desk, Crime Victims United of Oregon president Steve Doell said:

“The reality is, in the state of Oregon, the criminals have become the victims, and the victims have become nothing more than collateral damage. It’s [clemency] usually for people who have been found to be innocent, or it’s people who’ve really turned their lives around.”

According to KOIN, “the governor’s office explained ‘Governor Brown believes that granting clemency is an extraordinary act that should be reserved for individuals who have made incredible changes and who are dedicated to making their communities better.

She evaluates clemency applications on a case-by-case basis and considers a variety of factors about the applicant’s history and case when making those decisions.'”

Her office says that she makes every attempt to receive input from the victim’s family before deciding, something Rost’s daughter say has not happened.

The sisters hoped that Brown would reach out and have a conversation with them.

“Every time this happens, it’s like a scab that just gets torn off every couple [of] years, and we have to relive the whole story again and resubmit these victim impact statements,” Pettit said. 

At the time of the KOIN article regarding this case (January 22, 2022), Brown had not yet ruled.

At the time of this publication, there are no public records indicating that a decision has been reached regarding this specific case.

https://fundourpolice.com/

For more on the lawsuit, take a deeper dive.

After being sued for releasing countless convicted criminals, Oregon governor says she’ll wait – for now

SALEM, OR – The Democrat Governor of Oregon has decided to stop granting clemency requests while a lawsuit challenging her authority to release convicted criminals works its way through the courts.

A group of murder victims’ families filed the suit over her use of clemency.

Democrat Governor Kate Brown has agreed to stop granting clemency requests from February 2nd until March 2nd which is when everyone expects a judge to decide if Brown’s use of clemency lines up with her vested authority.

Kevin Mannix, the attorney for some of the family members, believes the judge in the case will find that Governor Brown has exceeded her authority.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for those represented allege that the Governor’s office has not been properly notifying surviving victims that she has granted clemency to their attacker.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that Governor Brown unlawfully exceeded her authority when she delegated clemency duties to other state agencies, including to the Oregon Board of Parole.

Monique DeSpain, another attorney for the Mannix Law Firm, spoke to Fox News about the Governor’s decision to stop allowing convicted criminals to go free. She said:

“Our clients, particularly our surviving victims, feel very hopeful and vie the Court’s order as a good sign that they are finally being heard and that the law will be enforced.”

Two of the violent felons that were granted clemency are murderers. The first one, Andrew Johnson, brutally murdered his own mother by stabbing her in the head ten times.

After the murder, he stole $2,000 and went on a shopping spree before he was busted. Instead of serving 25 years to life in prison for murder, he was granted clemency and released after only seven years.

The second murderer released was Richard Alsup who was one of three teenagers that brutally murdered a developmentally disabled girl, Jessica.

Alsup and two others stabbed her multiple times, “mutilated” her body before lighting her on fire.

Alsup was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. And again, instead of serving his prison sentence, he was granted clemency and released after having served 16 years.

Another example is that of Cayche French who shot his brother, Austin French to death on Halloween in 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life, but released after only 14 years.

Melissa Grassi, the girlfriend of Austin, joined the lawsuit and said she is doing so to learn why Governor Brown and her administration do not, in her opinion, care about victims and their surviving family members. She said:

“I just want to know why I, or any of the other victims, don’t seem to matter to the governor.”

One person who is not involved in the lawsuit but paying very close attention is Justin Olson, the son-in-law of murder victim Dale Rost, III.

Olson’s father-in-law was shot and killed by Lynley Janet Rayburn two days before Christmas in 2006.

In that case, Rayburn and her boyfriend, AJ Smith, were high on methamphetamine and decided to go out looking for trouble, armed with a rifle. When they encountered Rost, they tied him up while searching for anything they could use for money.

After they had found everything they could of value, they shot and killed Rost and fled in his vehicle. The couple then went around town on a shopping spree with Rost’s credit and debit cards.

Rayburn has applied for clemency even though she has served around half of her 27 and a half-year prison sentence. Olson hopes that Governor Brown will deny her request, but instead has told that a decision on the matter will be delayed.

 

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