On March 29, 2013, Multnomah County Judge Diana Stuart rejected a request by double murderer Mark Beebout to change his name to Yunus Mohammed -- questioning his stated intention that he wants to make the switch for purely religious reasons. Beebout’s name change petition was opposed by the family of Nikayla Powell, one of Beebout’s victims, who was represented in the matter by OCVLC’s Legal Director, Rosemary Brewer, and Pro Bono Attorney and OCVLC Board Member Erin K. Olson.
Beebout filed his name change petition shortly before being sentenced to two consecutive life terms following his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated murder. OCVLC’s attorneys cited cases from other states in which convicts’ efforts to change there name were rejected by courts as being inconsistent with the public interest. Oregon law also contains a public interest exception to the otherwise absolute right to change one’s name, and Judge Stuart relied upon that exception in denying Beebout’s name change petition. In addition to questioning his stated religious motivation, Judge Stuart made reference to the fact that Beebout is a registered sex offender whose registration and underlying sex offense conviction (for sexually assaulting a 14 year-old girl) is in his “Beebout” name, he has been convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in the past, and that the victims’ families and friends are members of the public who had made it clear in their letters and e-mails to her that allowing Beebout to change his name was not in their interest.
Beebout can appeal the denial of his petition to the Oregon Court of Appeals if he so chooses.