Woke Governor Grants Clemency to Every Death Row Inmate in the State, Here Are the Evil Men She Spared


Well, at least you can’t say Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is going out with a whimper.

Brown, a Democrat, granted commutations to the 17 individuals on death row in the state, according to Portland’s KPTV. All the individuals will have their sentences turned into life in prison without the possibility of parole, instead.

While former Gov. John Kitzhaber had put a moratorium on executions in 2011 and no one had been put to death in the state in 25 years, Brown’s move finally empties the capital punishment queue.

“The death penalty is immoral,” Brown said in a statement. “It is an irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction; is wasteful of taxpayer dollars; does not make communities safer; and cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably.”

“I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people — even if a terrible crime placed them in prison,” Brown’s statement added.

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“Unlike previous commutations I’ve granted to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation, this commutation is not based on any rehabilitative efforts by the individuals on death row. Instead, it reflects the recognition that the death penalty is immoral.”

Of course, one could plausibly judge both the wisdom and popularity of the move by the fact it was only taken after an election that polls showed as being far closer than the usual Oregonian gubernatorial coronation. Democrat Tina Kotek eventually prevailed — but she won’t have to empty Oregon’s death row, since Brown did that with just a month left in office.

Nor, in fact, did Oregon’s Democrat-dominated legislature ever move to abolish the death penalty on Brown’s watch. They may have taken moves to limit it, as local Portland alternative publication Willamette Week noted — a 2019 bill which limited new death sentences to only a handful of particularly heinous crimes, for instance, or a 2020 Oregon Department of Corrections move to end segregated death row housing — but, until Brown was freed from any electoral repercussions from her move, eliminating capital punishment wasn’t on the table.

Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, Oregon GOP minority House of Representatives leader, said the move showed “a lack of responsible judgment,”

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“Gov. Brown has once again taken executive action with zero input from Oregonians and the Legislature,” Breese-Iverson said in a statement. “Her decisions do not consider the impact the victims and families will suffer in the months and years to come. Democrats have consistently chosen criminals over victims.”

And what a group of criminals she chose.

WARNING: The following contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.

“The 17 inmates who will escape the death penalty include brutal killers and rapists, from a man who murdered his wife and three small children to a bomber whose explosion left two police officers dead and one disfigured,” the U.S. Sun reported.

“One child murderer, Jesse Caleb Compton, was convicted of killing Tesslyn O’Cull, the three-year-old daughter of his girlfriend in 1997,” the outlet noted. “Cops said that Compton starved, burned, and tortured the girl for weeks and authorities say there were signs of sexual abuse.

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“Prosecutors called it the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.”

Nor was he the only rapist and murderer on death row in Oregon, either. Clinton Wendess Cunningham was there for sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hitchhiker in 1991, then killing her by stabbing her 37 times.

Marco Antonio Montez, meanwhile, was on death row for raping, sodomizing and killing Candace Straub in a hotel room in 1987; he strangled her with a bedsheet before setting the room ablaze.

Several of the death row inmates had multiple body counts. Christian Michael Longo was there for murdering his wife and three kids, while Robert Paul Langley Jr. killed both Anne Louis Gray and Larry Richard Rockenbrant in 1988.

The list also includes Michael Martin McDonnell, who escaped from the Oregon State Penitentiary in 1984 and killed a man while on the run by stabbing him more than 40 times.

“My hope is that this commutation will bring us a significant step closer to finality in these cases,” Gov. Brown said in her statement.

You may not be surprised that Brown’s commutations — along with the sanitized language which minimized the gruesome nature of the crimes in question — did anything but that, at least for the families of the victims.

James Baker, whose daughter and grandchildren were murdered by Longo, said that, “As far as the family is concerned, this is wrong and wrong.”

“The rest of us all have to live the rest of our lives knowing what he did,” he told the Oregonian. “He killed his family, which is my daughter and my grandchildren, and they will never see life again.”

What’s worse, Baker said, is that the murders happened in December of 2001 — making a usually grim anniversary for the family even bleaker this year, thanks to the timing of Brown’s announcement.

“Every single year we can’t forget and every time Christmas rolls around, what we think about this,” he said. “We have our scrapbooks and our pictures, and we go through them around this time and realize these people are gone, and they are gone forever.”

Meanwhile, the widow of one of Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Bill Hakim, one of two officers killed by a bomb constructed by the father-and-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, lamented that Brown had spared her husband’s killers the death penalty.

Terri Hakim called it “devastating” and an “early Christmas present” for the convicted killers.

“OK, let’s just make it harder for the victims to go through their days, knowing that our governor is looking out for them and not us,” Hakim said. “It’s a very personal slap in the face.”

“Hakim sarcastically joked that at least the governor waited until the day after the 14th anniversary of the bombing to make her announcement,” the Oregonian reported.

“She said since the Turnidges were sentenced to death in 2010, any solace she felt has eroded again and again as two governors placed moratoriums on executions; the Legislature made it exceptionally difficult for defendants who kill to be sentenced to death; and the Turnidges appealed their convictions. Their latest attempt was heard just last month during a post-conviction relief trial.”

Still, while she never expected them to be put to death, Hakim said she “liked the fact that they would be isolated by themselves … I liked the fact that they didn’t have privileges in the general population.”

Now, even that’s gone. Bombers, rapists, murderers, all freed from the ultimate penalty — a penalty handed down by a jury under state law, overturned by a woke governor with nothing left to lose. Merry Christmas, indeed.

It’s worth noting, as the Washington Free Beacon did, that Brown will already leave office as America’s most-hated governor by poll numbers. Vox populi is hardly vox dei, but when even the leftists in Oregon have a fear and loathing of their woke governor, it’s clear they were onto something.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture