Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter has asked law enforcement associations to request the Oregon Supreme Court to reconsider the Oregon Court of Appeals decision to reinstate Sidney Dean Porter’s 2013 release date.
Carpenter said Friday he has sent letters to the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon District Attorneys Association urging them to contact the Oregon Department of Justice and Oregon Attorney General asking them to request that the Oregon Supreme Court reconsider the imminent release of Porter, who killed John Day Police Officer Frank Ward in 1992.
After Carpenter’s testimony before the Board of Parole in 2015, the board ruled Porter was a danger to the community and ordered him to remain in custody until at least 2020. That decision, however, will be preempted unless the Supreme Court overturns a recent ruling from the appeals court, which reinstated a 2013 release date due to legal errors.
The appeals court ruled the parole board should not have postponed a 2013 release date without a timely hearing. A June 2013 release date was issued when no evidence except a psychological evaluation was presented at an exit interview earlier that year.
Although more evidence was provided after that interview, the parole board did not hold a hearing with Porter until September 2013, after postponing the June release date. The appeals court ruled evidence presented after the postponement of the release date could not be used to justify the postponement that already occurred.
A copy of a letter submitted by Carpenter:
“In the early morning hours of April 8, 1992, Officer Frank Ward arrived at Sidney Dean Porter’s home on a domestic violence call. Porter had been drinking and had assaulted his wife. When Ward tried to intervene, Porter attacked him. Porter bludgeoned Ward with his fists and used a 10-pound piece of firewood to crush the back of Ward’s skull. At some point, Porter took and discarded Ward’s gun outside the house. When other officers arrived, they found Porter with blood on his hands and clothes. Ward was incapacitated and, despite medical efforts to save him, died soon thereafter.
In 1994, Porter pleaded guilty to aggravated murder. Porter stipulated to a life sentence – to serve not less than 30 years. However, the Board of Parole (the Board) was required, after 20 years and upon a Porter’s petition, to hold a hearing to determine if Porter was likely to be rehabilitated within a reasonable period of time.
In November 2012, the Board held a prison-term hearing and set a projected parole release date of June 7, 2013. On June 4, 2013, a few days before Porter’s planned release, the Board issued an order that rescinded the parole release date and reopened its prior decision. On September 30, 2013, the Board reaffirmed its decision to rescind Porter’s release date.
The Board found that Porter suffers from a present severe emotional disturbance such as to constitute a danger to the health or safety of the community. The Board extended Porter’s release date 24 months. Following the 24 month period, the Board held an exit interview on January 27, 2015, and extended Porter’s release date to June 7, 2020, with an exit interview hearing on December 2, 2019.
On September 21, 2016, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued an opinion finding that the Board lacked authority to postpone Porter’s release date and directing the Board to reinstate Porter’s release date of June 7, 2013. Porter’s release is imminent if this opinion is not challenged in the Oregon Supreme Court.
Porter is a cop killer who remembers in minute detail the events immediately before and immediately following his killing of Officer Ward. Porter claims no memory of the actual killing of Ward. Porter remains adamant that he did not kill Ward, speculating that perhaps Ward fell backward and landed on the piece of firewood, or alternatively fell backward and hit his head on the wood stove. The overwhelming physical evidence in the case shows that Porter slammed a wedge shaped piece of firewood into the top back of Ward’s head, causing his death. Each of Porter’s psychological evaluations returned with a finding that Porter suffers from a severe emotional disturbance such as to constitute a danger to the health and safety of the community.
In 2013, the Board eventually got it right. Porter should remain in prison, at least until 2020, and then until he no longer constitutes a danger to the health and safety of the community.
I strongly urge and invite your association and each of its members to contact the Oregon Department of Justice, Appellate Division and the Oregon Attorney General and ask them directly to request Oregon Supreme Court reconsideration of this opinion.”