Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daniel Myers sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, with 2 years added for unlawful delivery of methamphetamine.

Defense attorney Mark Rader to file appeal today.
[Edited to add information from DA Shirtcliff, 3/7&8/12]

If not overturned on appeal, Meyers will, at the earliest, get out of prison at 81 years old on the murder conviction, and at age 83 after serving the consecutive two year sentence on delivery of methamphetamine charge.

With the agreement of defendant Myers, his attorney Mark Rader stated that he will file a petition for appeal today.

I admit that I have not attended the Myers trial before yesterday, but I was curious about what a sentencing hearing for murder looks and feels like, so I attended the sentencing in District Court. When hearing the sentence, I thought the DA and Judge Baxter were acting with leniency and compassion because I was under the impression that the sentence could include the death penalty. That impression was incorrect. After reading Oregon laws related to murder last night, I learned that a person in Oregon cannot be sentenced to death for any charge except "aggravated murder." ("Aggravated murder is the only crime subject to the penalty of death under Oregon law." ) See: "aggravated murder" (The list of qualifying offenses is below the list of links.)

I attempted to talk to someone in the DA's office this morning so as to clarify this, but after being inadvertently hung-up on in the first call, I was unable to reach a human being in several subsequent calls. District Attorney Shirtcliff did call back this afternoon and confirmed for me that my understanding of the law was correct. Meyers' crime was not defined as "aggravated murder," but was instead, "murder." The charge in fact was originally "manslaughter," but was subsequently changed to "murder," neither of which are punishable by death. Thus the sentence of life in prison and 25 for murder, which translates to the possibility of parole after 25 years served.

During the hearing, Mr.Meyers seemed composed and well behaved, staring directly into the camera, which was at a room in the Baker County Jail. He was in handcuffs and attended to by the Undersheriff (Thompson). Judge Baxter explained to those present that Mr. Meyers had said that once again he did not wish to be in the courtroom or next to Defense Attorney Rader, and also that Mr. Meyers had stated that he would cause a "ruckus" in the courtroom if he was forced to be present. Judge Baxter explained the law, including the relevant Oregon Revised Statutes and that, if needed, Mr. Meyers would be afforded the opportunity to speak with his attorney privately via the video link. When asked if he understood, Mr. Meyers responded with "Yes, I understand, thank you."

Defense Attorney Rader once again asked for a mistrial, citing all the reasons cited previously. (See Herald: "Murder suspect refuses to attend his trial") DA Shirtcliff objected and Judge Baxter denied the motion for all the previously cited reasons.

DA Shirtcliff called the murder a "senseless act" on a sleeping person and cited the affect of the murder on the Weems family and others. (District Attorney Shirtcliff told me today that although Mr. Weems had a leatherman tool on his person, and a bowie knife behind the seat, he had no weapon in his hands at the time of the shooting.) DA Shirtcliff then read the letters of family members telling of the toll the killing had taken on the families. Weems younger sister wrote that Travis Weems would be the "first to forgive" as he was a "peacemaker."

DA Shirtcliff reminded the court that a family member was present during the shooting and that the then 55 year old Mr. Meyers had victimized a nineteen year old woman to run drugs for him so as to shield himself from discovery as the actual dealer. He also noted that the case serves to show what can happen when people become involved with methamphetamine, and detailed the involvement of Meyers in other drug crimes in Oregon, as well as an assault. He stated that Mr. Meyers was a criminal, a drug dealer and a dangerous person who kept an assault rifle on his property, and had committed intentional murder over a debt of a relatively small amount of money ($1,650 owed to Mr. Weems). He also asserted that Mr. Meyers deserves every year of the 27 year sentence.

Defense Attorney Rader then reiterated his view of the violation of Mr. Meyers' rights according to the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution, as well as Article 1 of the Oregon Constitution. He stated that the sentence was "exceedingly excessive," and that the additional sentence for meth delivery should run concurrently with the sentence for murder.

Interestingly, Mr. Rader noted that the victim and some witnesses were also involved in this, a possible reference to methamphetamine usage or worse, and that Mr. Weems wouldn't have been at the scene otherwise.

DA Shirtcliff objected to Attorney Rader's interpretation.

When asked by Judge Baxter, Mr. Myers stated "I have nothing to say, your Honor. Thank you."

Judge Baxter then explained to Mr. Meyers that if he intended to appeal, he must do so within 30 days. Defense Attorney Rader stated that he intended to file an appeal today (3/7/12). Mr. Meyers said he would agree to that. (At about 3:20 PM yesterday, I observed Attorney Rader asking a court clerk for appeal petition papers.)

DA Shirtcliff stated to the Court that Mr. Meyers had made the choices not to attend the trial and that they were his choices.

Judge Baxter then sentenced Mr. Meyers to:

Count 1, Murder; Life imprisonment which has a minimum of 25 years at the Department of Corrections.

Count 2, Unlawful use of a weapon; 5 years concurrent at the Department of Corrections.

Count 3, Felon in possession of a firearm; 90 days in County Jail, concurrent

Count 4, Unlawful delivery of methamphetamine; 24 months consecutive with two years post prison supervision

Count 5, Unlawful possession of methamphetamine; 24 months concurrent, 36 months post prison supervision.

No financial obligations were imposed.
__

After I left the courtroom, I spoke with one person who had read the press accounts, and she told me that the verdict was a "slam-dunk."

As I noted previously, I haven't been studiously following this case, and additionally, I haven't listened to the court recordings. I did though take notice earlier of the fact that Mr. Meyers objected to Attorney Rader handling the case, citing his view that Mr. Rader had not called witnesses to refute evidence produced against him. It seems odd that an indigent defendant wouldn't be allowed at least one or two changes in attorney's when facing a potential sentence of life imprisonment in a murder case. A person of greater means would certainly be able to do that. Would Mr. Meyers have participated more productively in his defense if he had been granted a change in defense attorneys? Is denying him that change equal protection under the law?

I also tried to think about Mr. Rader's idea that the victim and the witnesses were also involved, and that Mr. Weems wouldn't have been at the scene otherwise.

The validity of that thought is left to the justice system. I did though look up previous criminal involvement in the Baker County records (only Baker County) by the victim, Mr. Weems. His criminal record was not included in previous press reports.

Mr. Travis Weems was charged on May 18, 2001, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and for possession of a controlled substance. The charges were dismissed without prejudice on May 25th, 2001, with the statement to the effect that the matter will be taken up with a grand jury later.

On July 9, 2001, Mr. Weems was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance-2, C felony. Mr. Weems plead guilty to the firearms charge on April 22, 2002 and was convicted. The other charge was dismissed, perhaps on the condition of the completion of 36 months probation. The probation was later revoked and associated with case # CR99200 in Wasco County.

On August 31, 2001, there was a Domestic Relations Abuse Prevention Restraining Order.

On August 6, 2002 there were other charges against Mr. Weems:
1) Offense felony Manufacturing/Delivery of a controlled Substance-SC2
2) Same as above
3) Possession of a Controlled Substance 2 - C/Felony; 18 Mo. Probation
4) Felon in Possession of a Firearm - C Felony, probation later revoked
5) Attempt to Allude Police - A Misdemeanor, probation later revoked
6) Attempt to Allude Police - A Misdemeanor
7) Reckless Driving - A Misdemeanor
8) Probation Violation - 18 Months probation, revoked

Charges 1, 2, and 6 were dismissed. Charges 3, 4, 5, and 7 involved guilty pleas and convictions.

In a world of illicit drugs, unpaid debts, and guns, I can't help but ask--What might have been going on in the likely meth addicted mind of Mr. Meyers that night, when he walked out to Mr. Weems vehicle, parked in his driveway, and shot a sleeping man to death?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

As part of Daniels family I find your information inaccurate and needless to say the facts are missing somewhat. Please take his family into consideration and his mother especially. We as a family are still grieving the loss of his father in December and have had little relief from the court BS. If you want something worth writing about, write about meth/alcohol and how it has distroyed our family and killed our family members,put loved ones in jail and prison. Or better than that talk about those of us who choose not to use drugs or drink. Talk about the attention from the family is always focused on the negative and it over shadows the positive.

Christopher Christie said...

Dear Anonymous: I'm sorry you feel that way. I thought I had written a fair report about a case that is of public interest. Please feel free to correct perceived inaccuracies, or to add any information that you feel should have been included.

I already know quite a bit about how alcohol destroys families, but perhaps you would be in a better position to write about how meth and alcohol combined can destroy families. I would certainly print it.

I think an important part of solving the drug and alcohol problem is to begin to understand why people turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place, so that as a society, we might be able to make some changes that make it less likely for people to follow that path. Additionally, our society has a pretty schizophrenic approach to drugs in general because we allow sale of two damaging and addictive drugs, nicotine and alcohol, and vigorously promote the latter through advertising. There are also numerous mind-altering prescription drugs pushed by drug companies and readily prescribed by doctors. On the other hand, other drugs, some not as damaging, are criminalized with serious punitive consequences for the users. The criminalization of the use of these drugs provides most of the prisoners for our burgeoning police-court-prison-probation-treatment complex. In the case of alcohol, we promote its use and consumption at bars, taverns and parties, but cite and arrest people with a 0.08 blood alcohol level (one drink or less) who drive afterwards.

To me, drug use and its promotion is an interesting and too often tragic part of American society. I welcome comments or guest articles about its effects on families or what to do about it.

I'm also sorry for the losses and tragedy for both families in this case. Again, please feel free to correct any perceived inaccuracies.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Not 1 of you actually know what happened! You all need to shut the F*** up about what it is you all think cause no one gives a shit!

Anonymous said...

Alcohol and drugs are not a criminal problem! It is a social problem! IT IS EVERYONE'S PROBLEM!

Christopher Christie said...

Good Point!

Anonymous said...

I wish he would have got the death penality!!!! Zap the drug dealers!

Anonymous said...

He should get shot!!

Anonymous said...

He accually got 27 years!!!