Four years ago we brought you a story about five juvenile killers in Oregon. They received harsher sentences than some adult murderers because of what the state has called a “legal glitch.” Wednesday four of the so-called “Oregon Five” went before the state parole board.
The new hearings came about because of an Oregon Supreme Court ruling last year. The high court sided with the “Oregon Five” and said they’d been treated unfairly.
One of the killers is Sterling Cunio. At age 16 he participated in the kidnapping and murder of a young Salem couple. Today, he’s 35 and has spent the past 18 years in prison.
His attorney, Ryan O’Connor, asked the board to consider whether his client is rehabilitated and, if so, release him.
“Mr. Cunio made a horrific decision to commit murder and he, of course, should spend time in prison for that," O’Connor says. "But we don’t live in a society where we simply lock up kids who commit crimes and throw away the key.”
The Board declined to let Cunio make the case he’s rehabilitated. Instead the panel set a release date 35 years from now. Cunio’s attorney plans to appeal.
Meanwhile the legal limbo of these five killers has added to the grief of victims’ families. Several have argued against early release dates.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network