Bill adds killing Ore. LE back to crimes eligible for death penalty

The bill adds the killing of LEOs, COs and probation officers back to the definition of aggravated murder


Noelle Crombie
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A bill that narrows the crimes eligible for the death penalty heads to a vote of the Oregon House on Wednesday with a new provision: A last-minute change adds back the killing of law enforcement, corrections and parole and probation officers to the definition of aggravated murder.

The bill now defines aggravated murder to apply to acts of terror that kill two or more people, killings in jail or prison by people already convicted of aggravated murder, the premeditated murder of a someone younger than 14 and the killing of officers.

Under current state law, aggravated murder covers crimes such as killing more than one person or killing someone during a rape or robbery. Senate Bill 1013 would reclassify those crimes as first-degree murder, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

House Majority Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, said during a committee vote Monday that the inclusion of law enforcement in the bill is “appropriate.”

“What we talked about in the hearing was ensuring that our death penalty is available for the worst of the worst crimes,” she said.

Aliza Kaplan, a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School and director of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic, called the bill a compromise and a start to fixing what she called a broken system.

“While we might not all agree -- some people want more things, some people want less things -- we are at least discussing the issue and focusing on what is best for our state so we are not wasting money,” she said.

The proposed legislation also would change one of the four questions juries must decide when considering whether to impose a death sentence. Under Oregon’s system, jurors must determine that a person guilty of aggravated murder is at risk of being a danger in the future. The bill would remove that question.

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©2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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