Sept. 19


Threat of death penalty will not stop drug dealers

Regarding the front-page article in about imposing the death penalty on individuals who sell what turns out to be lethal doses of heroin or related substances (Sunday Monitor front page, Sept. 11): I do not object to such a measure.

However, it will be an issue of justice, not an effective preventative. That is, the idea that someone would refrain from selling such substances out of fear of the death penalty, or any other sanction, is simply misguided.

Persons selling such substances are mostly addicts themselves, dealing/selling to sustain their addictive habit. To someone in the throes of such addiction, all potential consequences are subordinate to the compelling need to obtain the substance. That is the nature of the disease.

I cannot count the number of times, in my professional involvement with these issues, that the addicted individual has said, "I never would have believed I would ever (steal, neglect my kids, lie, inject substances, deal), but I ended up doing it."

Again, I am not saying it is wrong to impose such penalties for these serious crimes. I am saying that, to curb the current substance-misuse crises we face as a state, and a country, we will need a comprehensive program of prevention and treatment, costing us tremendously in treasure, time and effort. In the end, it will be worth the cost.

Mike Bradley


(The writer is a master licensed alcohol and drug counselor.)

(source: Letter to the Editor, Concord Monitor)


Martinez: Death penalty jury breaks out in song

A capital murder case experienced a rare moment of levity Wednesday, arising from the dreariest of scenes.

Jurors in the trial for Darnell Washington - a jail escapee accused of murdering a retired Hercules teacher to steal her car - were forced to wait for 2 hours in the windowless hallways of the A.F. Bray courthouse Wednesday morning, as attorneys inside discussed a legal issue involving witness testimony.

In these situations, things can get awkward for jurors; they're all strangers, having been plucked randomly out of society and given this immense responsibility. Though they've been together since the trial started, July 25, they're forbidden from discussing the one thing they all have in common: the case.

But apparently these jurors have 1 other mutual interest: music.

As the waiting approached the 2-hour mark, a juror pulled out a smart phone and began playing a recording of Johnny Nash's #1 Billboard Hit, "I can see clearly now."

One began singing along, then 2, and within seconds a chorus of jurors had erupted in song. Of course, a courtroom bailiff picked that moment to poke his head through the door and tell them they'd been called back inside.

"I think we're starting to lose it," 1 juror joked on his way back in.

(source: East Bay Times)


Seaside toddler death-penalty trial could last 2 months

Clatsop County's 1st death penalty trial in 15 years starts Tuesday in Circuit Court.

Randy Lee Roden, 28, is on trial for allegedly murdering his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter and abusing her 2 sons while they all lived together in a Seaside apartment. The gruesome scene discovered in December 2014 is described as among the worst child-abuse cases in the county.

The trial, in courtroom 300, will focus this week on jury selection. Prospective jurors will be screened in the courtroom in groups of 6 until the 12-person jury is selected, with 2 to 4 alternates. The pool of available jurors will be asked about their attitudes toward capital punishment and whether they think they can be impartial.

Judge Paula Brownhill decided to have the jurors questioned in groups, rather than individually, after her experience presiding over the county's last death penalty case.

In 2001, Anthony Scott Garner was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing a woman on a motorboat in the Warrenton mooring basin and setting the boat on fire to cover up the crime.

"We questioned jurors individually in 15-minute segments, and it took over a week to select 12 jurors," Brownhill said. "In the Roden case, we will bring jurors into the courtroom in groups of 6 rather than 1 at a time."


The District Attorney's Office believes it has enough physical evidence and expert opinion to connect the crimes to Roden. The state will present evidence showing the 2-year-old, Evangelina Wing, and her brothers were tortured, burned, bitten and caged in the Seaside apartment their mother, Dorothy Wing, shared with Roden.

Evangelina Wing apparently died of battered child syndrome with blunt force trauma to her head. Blood spatter was found in almost every corner of the apartment, staining holiday decorations and the wall behind a Christmas tree.

Roden's defense is that he did not commit the crimes. His lawyer, Conor Huseby, is adamant that someone else is to blame, possibly the children's mother.

Dorothy Wing, 26, pleaded guilty in January to 1st-degree manslaughter and 2 counts of 1st-degree criminal mistreatment. She was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison, contingent on her truthfully testifying at Roden's trial.

"Mr. Roden's defense will be what it has always been; he simply did not commit the crimes the state has accused him of," Husby wrote in a court document.


Roden's trial could last up to 2 months. Trial days will be Tuesday through Friday, with occasional time off of those days if a session finishes early or the court has an emergency hearing in another case.

Multiple witnesses for the prosecution and defense will testify. Many are traveling from Georgia, where Roden grew up.

Witnesses for Roden include his close friends, sister, half brother and 6th- and 3rd-grade teachers. The defense also plans to call Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist, who claims the toddler likely died from complications of a flesh-eating infection, rather than from blunt-force trauma.

The prosecution will call 2 of Roden's ex-girlfriends, who can detail a pattern of violence against women and children.

One ex-girlfriend, who dated Roden from March to July 2014, will say he did not like children, he abused her children both physically and emotionally and her children were fearful of him. She will testify that Roden was very controlling with her and the children, threatened to move out and warned he would commit suicide in order to control her behavior, according to court documents.

Roden is serving an 8-year prison sentence for violating probation from a domestic violence conviction in 2013 involving his other ex-girlfriend. The woman is traveling from Tennessee to testify against Roden.

"(She) is a past girlfriend and prior crime victim of Mr. Roden and has abundant information about his character," Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown wrote in a court document.

(source: The Daily Astorian)

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