|James Willie today. The picture links to the Channel 2 story.|
On Sunday, July 18, 1999, Martin and Angela Ferlitsch drove their granddaughter Jennifer to the beach. As they neared the coast their car was met by James Willie. Head on. Martin and Jennifer were killed instantly in the crash. Angela was severely injured but survived.
James Willie was high on cocaine and alcohol, and not for the first time. He had already served two years in prison for killing his wife and a friend while loaded.
The judge in the second deadly case ordered Willie to serve, by plea agreement, just over 15 years in prison. Here is her order, dated January 11, 2000:
IT IS THE JUDGMENT OF THIS COURT that the defendant is convicted of Count 4, Manslaughter In The Second Degree and is sentenced to the Legal and Physical Custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections for a period of 75 months.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendant is convicted of Count 5, Manslaughter in The Second Degree and is sentenced to the Legal and Physical Custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections for a period of 75 months, to be served consecutive to Count 4.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendant is convicted of Count 3, Assault in The Second Degree and is sentenced to the Legal and Physical Custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections for a period of 70 months. 40 months are consecutive to Count 4 and 30 months are concurrent with Counts 4 and 5.
The Defendant shall receive credit for time served.
The term of post prison supervision is 36 months.
The judge's orders are prepared by the court and then sent to my office. We review the orders and if we think they are unclear we can ask that they be amended. There is nothing unclear about this order. Willie was to serve 75 months for killing Martin Ferlitsch, 75 months for killing Jennifer Ferlitsch, and 40 more months for severely injuring Angela Ferlitsch.
Let's do the math. Willie was sentenced on January 11, 2000. He had been in jail since July 18, 1999, so his "time served" was 6 months minus about 7 days. The judge ordered him to serve 190 months minus those 6 months = 184 months = 15 years and 4 months. Willies' release date would be around May 11, 2015.
On October 17th of this year my office received a list including about a dozen inmates the DOC plans on letting loose in the next few months. One name was James Willie, with a release date of January 2012. The named and the date jumped at me. I remember the case very well, including the sentencing. The plea bargain I offered under Measure 11 was that Willie had to serve at least 15 more years from the date of sentencing before he could be eligible for release.
The DOC has so far not responded to my November 1 letter explaining the error. The DOC has refused to answer KATU's questions on camera. The DOC apparently has not checked the original proceedings. I have my suspicions about why.
People who have been affected by the James Willies of the world understand the need for truth in sentencing and the reasons for Measure 11. Oregon voters in general understand. A growing chorus of "experts" think they know better.
[Part 1 of 2]