On November 15, OCVLC pro bono attorney Olufunmike "Fumi" Owoso helped to persuade the Oregon State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that an inmate who bludgeoned and then choked to death a Portland man almost 25 years ago should spend at least another 24 months behind bars.
Although the board previously had found that the inmate, Kevin Roper, was likely to be rehabilitated within a reasonable period of time" and had set a release date for March 14, 2012, Owoso successfully argued that it was not required to release him at that time because he has been diagnosed with a severe emotional disturbance that would make him a danger to the community and does not have an adequate plan for what he would do if released.
Roper and a co-defendant, Scott Wickee, were convicted in Multnomah County of Aggravated Murder in 1987 in the death of an acquaintance, Eddie Lee "Bobby" Gibbs. Roper was sentenced to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 30 years without the possibility of parole. However, in 2010 the Oregon Supreme Court held that, as a result of the board's 2008 finding that he was likely to be rehabilitated, it was required to set a release date even though he has not yet served the 30-year minimum. That ruling also affected at least 29 other inmates, of which Roper was the first to go to this level of hearing.
Roper's release also was opposed by Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Traci Anderson and Gibbs' mother and brother.
Owoso, who represented Gibbs' sister, compared Roper's behavior at the time of his arrest with the Roper who described the crime in affectless, sometimes contradictory detail before the board Tuesday.
"The Kevin Roper who brutally murdered my client's little brother is the same Kevin Roper who sits before us today," she told the board. A short time later, the three-member panel, ruling unanimously, told Roper that he would remain incarcerated and set a tentative release date for March 2014, with another psychological evaluation and hearing to take place before then. "You still have some work to do," board chair Aaron Felton told him.
Video of KATU Channel 2 News coverage of Kevin Roper's parole hearing
Related KATU Channel 2 News coverage
Related Oregonian article