Twenty-five years after killing a John Day police officer, Sidney Dean Porter is back in Grant County.
Porter, 57, was released from custody Friday, March 24, and transported by family members to the Monument area, where he will reside “for the time being,” Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter said. Porter will be supervised on parole by Grant County Community Corrections.
Community Corrections Director Todd McKinley said the department will work to help Porter succeed outside of prison.
“I respect the wide range of emotion that the release of Mr. Porter invokes,” he said. “However, I and those I work with are committed to fulfilling our role in helping Mr. Porter be a successful citizen in good standing in Grant County.”
Porter pleaded guilty to aggravated murder for the 1992 killing of Officer Frank Ward, who had responded to a report of domestic violence at Porter’s residence. Porter “bludgeoned Ward with his fists and a 10-pound piece of firewood,” according to court documents.
A lack of evidence provided at an exit interview in 2013 and legal errors by the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision hastened Porter’s release. The parole board issued a prison release date in 2013 after little evidence was presented at a required exit interview, but the date was postponed after further evidence was provided. The board, however, did not hold a hearing with Porter at the time of the postponement.
The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the parole board should not have postponed his release without “a timely hearing” and reinstated the 2013 release date because of the legal errors by the board. The Oregon Supreme Court denied a request to review the appeals court decision.
Carpenter, who fought to keep Porter imprisoned, said it is “time to move forward.”
“With regard to Mr. Porter, our community has a wide variety of opinions as to what ‘should be,’” he said. “As district attorney, I have to accept and work with ‘what is.’ In terms of incarceration, Mr. Porter is deemed to have paid his debt to society. ... I hope that Grant County will set aside any outward expressions of malice and proceed with cautious optimism.”