HILLSBORO, Ore. (April 7, 2023) — The Washington County District Attorney’s Office is pleased to announce the results of “Wingspan III,” a specialized court program designed to address the criminal defense attorney shortage crisis.

In Washington County, dozens of criminal defendants have not been assigned court-appointed attorneys due to Oregon’s indigent defense attorney shortage. This has led to delayed justice, for both the defendants charged with crimes and the community members victimized by crime.

This past February and March, the Washington County District Attorney’s Office partnered with the Oregon Defense Attorney Consortium (ODAC) and the Washington County Circuit Court to launch Wingspan III. The program was modeled after two previous specialized court programs that addressed case backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of six weeks, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges worked together to ensure defendants and victims had their day in court.

Wingspan III addressed more than 100 Washington County criminal cases delayed due to a lack of defense attorney representation. Wingspan III’s efforts also included the services of eight ODAC defense attorneys who represented Washington County defendants without assigned counsel.

Of the defendants who appeared in court, Wingspan III resolved approximately 70% of their cases. An in-depth summary of Wingspan III’s results can be viewed here. 

“I am proud that key Washington County stakeholders came together to address this problem,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton. “Those accused of a crime and those victimized by a crime deserve to have their day in court without delay.”

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office would like to thank Rob Harris, attorneys of the Oregon Defense Attorney Consortium, the Washington County Circuit Court and Judge Erik Bucher for their partnership in this unique program.

Media contact information
Traci Muldoon
Public Information Officer
(971) 708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore. (March 6, 2023) — Dante James Halling, age 60, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to six counts of Attempted Murder and one count of Burglary in the Second Degree for the attempted murder of five sheriff’s deputies and one Tualatin police officer in August of 2019. Chief Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey prosecuted the case before Judge Beth Roberts. At the sentencing, Judge Roberts noted Mr. Halling’s extensive criminal history and expressed the need to ensure the public’s safety, before sentencing Mr. Halling to 45 years in prison, all of which will be served under Ballot Measure 11. 

On August 8, 2019, Mr. Halling burglarized an outdoor shed of a Scoggins Valley Road residence, stealing a shotgun and ammunition before attempting to enter the back door of the victim’s home. Members of the victim’s family were home at the time of the attempted break in and immediately called 911. Washington County Sheriff Officers quickly dispatched the Washington County Sheriff’s Tactical Negotiations Team after arriving to the property.

Sergeant Crecelius, Corporal Justin Pelletteri, Deputy Steve Nichols, Detective Kevin Winfield, Deputy Chris Iverson, Sergeant Jeremy Braun and K9 Maize of the Tactical Negotiations Team cleared the home and brought the victims residing in the home to safety. While clearing the house, the defendant was found armed and attempting to enter the back door of the victim’s home before running into a wooded area near the residence. 

The Tactical Negotiations Team pursued Mr. Halling into the woods. Mr. Halling had concealed himself in the woods. As the Tactical Negotiations Team approached, Mr. Halling opened fire, shooting Deputy Jeremy Braun in the chest and neck, then shooting Deputy Iverson in the side and left elbow. Deputy Braun sustained traumatic injuries and nearly died, with shotgun pellets striking the carotid artery and jugular vein. Braun was life-flighted to the Oregon Health Science University trauma unit for emergency surgery, nearly dying several times.

Mr. Halling was arrested and transported to Emanuel Hospital in Portland, for a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen he sustained during the firefight. At Emanuel Hospital, the defendant was diagnosed with “acute methamphetamine intoxication” after toxicology reports revealed a large amount of meth in the defendant’s body.

“Judge Roberts sent an important message today — that criminals are still punished in Washington County, and we will not tolerate violence directed at law enforcement or other first responders,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office acknowledges the work of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon Health Science University Trauma Unit, Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, Metro West Ambulance for their bravery and quick response in this matter. This office also commends the courage, selfless service and heroism of the Washington County Sheriff’s Tactical Negotiations Team, who put their life in harm’s way to protect our Washington County residents.

Media contact information
Traci Muldoon
Public Information Officer
(971) 708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore. (March 7, 2023) — The Washington County District Attorney’s Office is pleased to announce the 2022 metrics for Washington County’s Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program.

The Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program aims to improve the efficiency of the “fitness to proceed” process to reduce the time offenders spend in jail awaiting fitness to proceed determinations. Under Oregon law, when the court has reason to doubt a defendant’s fitness to proceed by reason of incapacity due to a qualifying mental illness, the court may order an examination to determine whether the defendant possesses the capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings and ability to aid and assist in his or her defense. If an offender is determined not to have the capacity to proceed, the offender is transferred to a state hospital to receive treatment for an assigned duration.

The Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program was established in 2020 in collaboration with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the defense bar, mental health services and the Washington County Circuit Court. Through partnering with NW Forensic Institute and Lithia Forensics and Consulting, Washington County stakeholders reduced the turnaround time of a process that once took 62 days to as little as 16 days.

“The Rapid Fitness to Proceed program is one of many examples of public safety and justice system partners working together to keep our community safe,” remarked Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett. “This program helps us make the most of limited jail capacity and improves overall community safety.”

From January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, the Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program saved 1,472 total jail days for 39 defendants, freeing up critically needed jail space for other criminal defendants awaiting court appearances. If calculated in dollars and cents at $264.78 per person, per day, this would amount to $475,015.32. Through this improved efficiency, offenders arrested for lower-level crimes spend less time in jail pre-trial, freeing up limited jail space for more dangerous offenders.

“Our Rapid Fitness to Proceed program continues to show great results,” said District Attorney Kevin Barton. “At a time when resources are stretched and we need to be as efficient as possible, this innovative program allows us to prioritize the use of hospital beds for those who need treatment and jail beds for those who need incarceration.”

To learn more about this program and to access a referral form needed to initiate an evaluation, visit our Rapid Fitness to Proceed page.

Media contact information
Traci Muldoon
Public Information Officer
971-708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore. (February 24, 2023) — The Washington County District Attorney’s Office is proud to announce its Child Support Division is ranked the number one division for child support collections statewide.

According to the State of Oregon’s recently-released 2022 child support collection data, the Washington County District Attorney’s Child Support Division collected more than $28.6 million in child support collections for the federal fiscal year, from October 2021 to September 2022. Child support collections include monthly child support dues and payment of any outstanding child support balances not paid. 

The Washington County DA’s Office is the only child support enforcement division in the state to receive 100% of eligible federal incentive funds in all four categories: established support orders, current support collected, arrears collected and cost-effectiveness.

“The success of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office’s Child Support Division is thanks to our team’s hard work and dedication to the families in the Washington County community. The mission of our Child Support Division is to ensure our county’s children have the support they need to grow in a stable environment,” stated Senior Deputy District Attorney Ana Maria Carter and Child Support Division Manager. 

According to the Oregon Department of Justice, a study from the Urban Institute found that child support programs pay for themselves by decreasing the direct budgetary outlays required for other public assistance programs. Another study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that families who were child support recipients have twice the poverty rate compared to non-recipient families, with nearly 41% also receiving public assistance benefits. 

“The efforts of our robust Child Support Division promote stable and safe homes for children, improving public safety and community well-being. Promoting a stable environment for children in our county is a top priority — and we will continue to build upon these efforts to ensure our children receive the support they need and deserve,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton.

The Washington County District Attorney's Child Support Division also helps parents establish paternity and create or modify child support or medical support orders. Learn more by visiting: https://www.washingtoncountyda.org/child-support

Media contact information
Traci Muldoon
Public Information Officer
(971) 708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore. (February 7, 2023) — On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, Billy Lee Oatney, age 60, was convicted of Murder in the First Degree for the 1996 death and sexual assault of Susi Larsen — for the second time. Chief Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey and Sr. Deputy District Attorney Andrew Freeman prosecuted the case before Judge Beth Roberts. 

The victim, Susi Larsen, age 34, disappeared in August of 1996 after telling friends her plans to meet with Oatney, an acquaintance, about making jewelry for her wedding. Her body was found two weeks later near Champoeg State Park in Marion County.

Oatney was convicted for Larsen’s death in 1998 but was granted a new trial after the Oregon Court of Appeals determined Oatney’s attorney did not provide adequate representation at trial. The trial lasted three weeks.

Following the verdict, the jury listened to further evidence of Oatney’s history, including his prior conviction of Attempted Murder in the 1980’s, where he slit the throat and stabbed the chest of a service member while serving in the U.S. Navy. Oatney served 12 years and six months of the 22-year sentence for the Attempted Murder and was released from federal supervision just months before the murder of Susi Larsen.

The jury found that future efforts to rehabilitate Oatney would not be successful and prior sanctions have not deterred his conduct. Judge Beth Roberts used these findings to sentence Oatney to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Mr. Oatney is one of the most dangerous predators our office has prosecuted,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey. “Ensuring public safety and upholding justice for victims like Susi Larsen to the fullest extent is a top priority in Washington County — and our county is a safer place because of this conviction. Our hearts are with the family and friends of Miss Larsen who had to re-visit this tragic event decades later."

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the Oregon State Police and the many parties involved since the 1996 investigation, including Oregon State Superintendent retiree Travis Hampton, Oregon State Police Detective retiree Eric Altman, Tualatin Police Captain retiree Brad King, Tualatin Police Detective retiree Kevin Winfield, Oregon State Chief Medical Examiner retiree Larry Lewman, Milwaukie Chief of Police Luke Strait and the many scientists, both active and retired, from the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory.

Media contact information
Traci Muldoon
Public Information Officer
(971) 708-8219

HILLSBORO, Ore.- On September 15, 2022, a Washington County jury found Scott Patrick Phillips guilty of second-degree intimidation and telephonic harassment. On September 16, 2022, Judge Ted Sims sentenced the defendant to seven days in jail, two years of supervised probation and ordered he pay associated court fines. He also ordered the defendant to undergo mental health treatment, that he have no future contact with the victim, and barred him from using social media going forward. Deputy District Attorney Mahalee Streblow prosecuted the case against Mr. Phillips. 

The defendant and victim worked together briefly before their business relationship ended. The defendant became upset over a payment dispute and began harassing the victim. Mr. Phillips called, texted, and e-mailed the victim despite her repeatedly telling him to stop. The defendant threatened the victim and demanded payment from her. 

In 2019, the victim alerted law enforcement. She provided investigators with 30 voicemails left by the defendant. These messages were racist in nature and contained race-specific threats of violence. Deputies with the Washington County Sheriff's Office arrested the defendant without incident. 

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to protecting all members of our community. This office leads the County’s Bias Crime Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The MDT consists of members from law enforcement agencies and community partner organizations. The team meets regularly to discuss and implement strategies to combat bias and hate crime, including trainings, education, and outreach events. To learn more about this effort, visit our website. 

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