Crime, Law and Justice

Charli Deltenre

It's still not clear what the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act will mean for many same-sex couples in the Northwest. That's because of new legal questions surrounding the hundreds of couples who have marriage licenses from Washington state but live in states like Idaho and Oregon that have banned same-sex marriage.

Drone Restrictions Moving Forward At Oregon Capitol

Jun 25, 2013
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

New restrictions on drones are moving forward in the Oregon legislature. Lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday on a measure that would limit the way law enforcement can use unmanned aircraft.

Earlier this year, hobbyists raised a fuss when lawmakers considered a measure that would have required all unmanned aircraft — even a child's toy — to be registered with the state. The compromise version of the bill removes that requirement.

Kitzhaber Scores Legal Victory Over Death Row Inmate

Jun 20, 2013
File Photo / Legislative Media

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has scored a major legal victory in a case that pits him against a death row inmate who wants to be executed. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the governor does have the right to spare Gary Haugen 's life.

Two-time convicted murderer Gary Haugen has dropped all his appeals and was set to be put to death in late 2011. But two weeks before Haugen's scheduled execution, Kitzhaber suspended the death penalty for as long as he's in office.

Oregon Department of Corrections

An Oregon man convicted of killing a police officer more than 20 years ago will stay behind bars for at least a few more months. The Oregon Board of Parole said Tuesday that it will re-examine its decision to release Sidney Dean Porter.

In 1992, Porter beat and killed John Day police officer Frank Ward with his fists and a piece of firewood. The murder shocked the eastern Oregon community. Porter got a life sentence but is now eligible for parole. In fact, he was set to be let out of prison this Friday.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Even if you've never visited a jail, you probably have a pretty clear image of what inmate visitation is like – a shatterproof glass barrier, two people sitting on either side, speaking into telephones.

But that's changing in some parts of the Northwest. More and more county jails are switching to privately operated video conferencing systems. Sort of like Skype, for inmates. But these systems have technical difficulties and come with costs for the inmates’ families.

Delayed visits

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

  Federal authorities believe the Spokane man accused of sending a ricin-laced letter to a federal judge may have also sent similar poisoned letters to the president, the CIA and Fairchild Air Force Base. 

The FBI says the new letters were addressed in red ink and postmarked May 13 in Spokane. That matches the earlier letters Matthew Ryan Buquet is accused of mailing to a federal judge in Spokane and the downtown post office.

Benton County District Attorney

The Oregon teenager accused of plotting an attack on his high school has obsessive-compulsive disorder brought on in a rare way: a strep infection. That's according to his mother.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

West Albany High School students are praising one of their classmates as a hero. Truman Templeton sounded the alarm that a fellow student was plotting what officials call "mass murder" at his high school. Seventeen-year-old Grant Acord is being held on $2 million bail after his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Benton County District Attorney

A judge in Benton County, Ore. has set bail at $2 million for a 17-year-old accused of plotting to bomb West Albany High School. The student -- Grant Acord -- appeared in court on a video link to face 19 counts. They include attempted aggravated murder and illegal manufacture and possession of bombs and weapons.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A 17-year-old student from Albany, Oregon appeared in court this afternoon Tuesday on charges of plotting to bomb his high school. On the first day back for students, the sign in front of the campus Tuesday says simply, “West Albany High School is family.” Tanner Whitley is a senior there.

“It was really scary when we came back at first because we didn’t know what to expect," Whitley says. "But as we come back, it’s kind of nice to be back with everyone here because everybody seems a little bit tighter right now.”