Central Oregon’s state lawmakers and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel issued a joint plea Wednesday to Gov. Kate Brown that she call a special legislative session in the next few days to fix a new law that limits use of the death penalty — but as it turns out, also has an impact on past cases.
Senate Bill 1013, which limits the definition of aggravated murder, takes effect on Sunday. Brown has sp declined to call a special session, saying there aren’t adequate votes in the Oregon House to pass a measure clarifying the new law.
The issue arose when a state Department of Justice lawyer said the measure won’t just apply to future crimes, but also to cases sent back for retrial or new sentencing hearings and current cases awaiting trial . .
State Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Reps. Jack Zika (R-Redmond), Cheri Helt (R- Bend), Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) and Vikki Breese-Iverson, (R-Prineville), together with Hummel, said they ” beseech ” the governor to address the confusion caused by the passage of SB 1013.
In a joint statement, they said they ” all share concerns about how this bill could inflict more mental trauma on the victims’ families when they have to relive the atrocities committed by these perpetrators when coming face-to-face with them in court. ”
Together, they released the following statement:
” Victims and their families are asking us to act, and we are ready and willing to participate in a Special Session. There is still time to address the confusion caused by the passage of Senate Bill 1013. We cannot fathom the anguish these families feel, knowing that the retroactive nature of SB 1013 could lead to the release of individuals who caused them such pain. Our court system and our fellow Oregonians deserve clarity on this critical issue. We must stand up for victims and their families, and for the integrity of the legislative system. ”
The lawmakers and prosecutor said SB 1013 could affect cases like that of Randy Lee Guzek, convicted of killing a Terrebonne couple, Rod and Lois Hauser, in 1987. He has lost four appeals over the ensuing decades, but under the current wording of SB 1013, the lawmakers and DA said ” he would get a reduced sentence. ”