On March 20, 2012, the OCVLC helped persuade the Oregon State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that an inmate who had raped and murdered a 16-year-old classmate should serve the maximum time allowable, 228 months, plus an additional 108 months. The inmate, Conrad Engweiler, is one of five men known as the “Oregon Five” who were convicted of aggravated murder as juveniles in the years between 1989 and 1995.
Engweiler was 15 years old when he murdered Erin Reynolds in 1990. At that time, Oregon did not have a sentencing matrix applicable to juveniles convicted of aggravated murder. Engweiler was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 30 years. However, it was later determined that Oregon law did not allow the court to set a minimum term for juveniles, and in 1999 the Board of Parole promulgated a new set of rules designed to apply to juveniles convicted of aggravated murder. Under these rules, the Board of Parole set a minimum term of 40 years for Engweiler. He appealed that sentence, and in 2011 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that that Parole Board had to hold a hearing for Engweiler to set an appropriate term and an initial release date. This ruling affects all five of the inmates currently incarcerated for committing aggravated murder as juveniles before 1995. Engweiler’s hearing was the first of the prison term hearings for the Oregon Five.
At the hearing the three-member board unanimously decided that Engweiler should serve a minimum term of 228 months, the maximum term allowable under the sentencing matrix that was applicable at the time of his crime. In addition, the board has the authority to add 108 months to the sentence if an “aggravating factor” was found. Rosemary Brewer, Legal Director for the OCVLC, argued that two aggravating factors applied: that the inmate knew that the victim was particularly vulnerable and that the inmate’s criminal history was more serious than reflected by the history/risk score. The board found that both of these aggravating factors did apply and added the 108 months. Engweiler is eligible for release in February 2018. There will be a hearing in August 2017 to determine whether he should be released at that time.
Engweiler’s release also was opposed by Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Charles French and by members of the Reynolds family, including Erin Reynold’s father, sister, and brother. The OCVLC argued on behalf of Erin Reynold’s stepmother.
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