Yates pleaded guilty in 1990 for the murder of Shelley Elkins, 20, in Clackamas County. Ms. Elkins was the fiance of Yates' cousin, and was attacked by Yates in her home. After strangling Ms. Elkins to death, Yates called his mother, then held a gun and refused to allow police or medical personnel into the home for hours.
During lengthy questioning by the Board, Yates called the murder of Ms. Elkins "a bad choice" that he made. The Board found that Yates displayed a total lack of understanding why he committed the murder, and that he showed "no remorse or empathy" for the death of Ms. Elkins. Board member Sid Thompson said he was struck by how "cold and emotionless" Yates was as he described killing Ms. Elkins.
Yates' release was opposed by the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office, represented by Bill Stewart, as well as by Ms. Elkins' sister, mother, father, other family members, and friends of the family. Rosemary Brewer, Legal Director of the OCVLC, argued against Yates' release on behalf of Ms. Elkins' father.