Death Penalty Buzz III
Bill Long 5/22/06
Disproportionate Sentencing (Continued)
3. Case # 3. Todd Reed, the Forest Park Killer. More recently than the Silveria rampages were the Forest Park killings in Portland. The bodies of three young women were found in the park in May and June 1999. Attention immediately focused on Todd Reed, who had earlier been a suspect in two unsolved murders near Mt. Hood Community College in the late 1980s. He was charged with the killing of the three young women and became the prime suspect in the other two murders. Witnesses had placed him near the scene of the crimes, and his semen was found in one of the Forest Park victims. In addition, a fourth young woman disappeared in the Forest Park area in June 1999 and Reed became a suspect in that disappearance.
Settlement discussions were convened shortly before the case was to go to trial in 2001. The Multnomah County district attorney's office wanted, as a basis of further discussions, Reed to admit to the other killings. He did not so admit. After further negotiations, the sides agreed that Reed would admit to the killing of the three women and would accept three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Again, the contrast between the crimes of Reed and McDonnell and the penalties each received is stark.
4. Case # 4. Dallas Ray Stevens. Dallas Ray Stevens' case is perhaps the one with the closest procedural connection to McDonnell's. In November 1988 Stevens was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder in the death of a five-year-old girl and of the kidnapping and sexual assault of the murdered girl and two of her sisters. He was sentenced to death. In 1991 the Oregon Supreme Court reversed his conviction on Penry grounds. He was resentenced to death in Linn County, and in 1994 the court again remanded the case to the circuit court, this time because the defendant's family was not permitted to testify fully on Stevens' behalf.
Procedural complexities developed. Before this third penalty-phase trial, both the State and defendant appealed evidentiary rulings made by the circuit court. Those rulings were eventually treated by the court of appeals and the supreme court, and the case was reinstated for a third penalty-phase trial in 1999. Yet the jury pool issue, described above (i.e., relating to whether jury pools are representative of the community), was just starting to be raised, and Stevens' attorneys raised the issue through a mandamus proceeding in the Oregon Supreme Court. The court held the mandamus action in abeyance while it considered the other mandamus actions already filed on the issue.
Finally, the case was reactivated in 2001. Further legal wrangling, legislative changes to the jury pool statute, and another threatened mandamus action led to a spring 2002 settlement conference betwen the district attorney and Stevens' lawyers. When the settlement conference ended, Stevens agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Linn County District Attorney Jason Carlile gave as the primary reason for willingness to extend a settlement in this case the procedural delays of the death penalty and the possibility that Stevens, now 50, would be facing many, many more years before possible execution.
[I then point to the procedural similarities between the Stevens and McDonnell cases, but show that Stevens killed one person and had numerous sex and rape charges yet received LWOP, while McDonnell killed one and received the sentence of death.]
5. Case # 5. Michael Wayne Gallatin. Michael Wayne Gallatin, born in 1962, entered a guilty plea to multiple counts of aggravated murder on May 13, 2002 in Clackamas County Circuit Court. This plea ended a seven-year rampage beginning in 1993 where he raped five women in Clark county, WA. He would wear a ski mask and gloves, enter the homes of victims during the early morning hours, and rape them. In all but one case, these rapes were stranger-to-stranger attackes. McDonnell's crime was also a stranger-to-stranger crime.
In November 1997 Gallatin entered the home of Linda Karlovich in Clackamas County and brutally murdered her. She was not raped, as her screams during the attack probably prevented the rape. Gallatin's aggravated murder was also a stranger-to-stranger attack. Before trial in 2002 Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote offered Gallatin, in exchange for a confession, the sentence of life imprisonment without the possiblity of parole. He accepted that offer. One of the reasons stated by Foote for offering a sentence less than death was because of the fragile mental state of the victim's husband during the pretrial preparations.
Again, there are similaries and differences between the Gallatin and McDonnell cases. Both committed stranger-to-stranger crimes. Both had lengthy criminal records before their aggravated murders. However, Gallatin's cooly planned attack on women, especially Karlovich, make his crimes appear to be more heinous than that of Mcdonnell. Yet he received a lesser sentence than McDonnell. Even if one concedes that the comparative heinousness is about equal, the penalty is not. In the language of the supporters of the death penalty, if Gallatin is not the "worst of the worst," neither is McDonnell.
I am convinced that careful work in all death-penalty jurisdictions would tell similar stories. Go to it!
Copyright © 2004-2009 William R. Long