Washington Co. District Attorney's Office
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News Releases
Washington County District Attorney's Office Secures Grant Funding to Investigate Cold Cases (Photo) - 10/28/20

HILLSBORO, Ore.- The Washington County District Attorney’s Office was awarded $470,000 in grant funding to investigate and prosecute violent crime cold cases that involve identified DNA associated with a possible suspect. The grant, “Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA,” is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

This office recently conducted a review of all major cold cases to identify their potential to be prosecuted with additional investigation. A cold case is defined as a case three or more years old that is not under active investigation. Of the 43 identified homicide cases dating back to 1968, at least 14 contain DNA evidence. Additionally, there are potentially hundreds of unsolved sexual assault cases over the decades that also contain DNA evidence. This office is confident many of these cases can be solved, the victims associated with them can receive the justice they deserve, the community at large can receive a sense of resolution and those who committed these crimes can finally be held responsible. This grant will allow additional resources and modern forensic tools to be used.

The grant funding will allow this office to hire one full-time investigator to pursue violent crime cold cases where suspect DNA has been identified. Additionally, this office would use a small portion of the funds to hire a forensic consultant. These new resources, combined with advances in DNA testing and related databases, will improve the chances of resolving these cases. Those hired for these two new positions will work with a prosecutor and victim advocate to form a Violent Crime Cold Case Multidisciplinary Team (MDT).  The MDT would work together to solve and prosecute violent crime cold cases in Washington County and in partnership with existing resources, including the Washington County Major Crimes Team.

“Holding criminals accountable no matter how long they have hidden their crime is a fundamental component of justice. While these cases may be labeled as “cold cases,” to the victims and their families, they are as just as real and important today as they were when the crime occurred many years ago. This office and Washington County law enforcement now have added tools to help provide some resolution and obtain justice,” said District Attorney Kevin Barton.

This grant adds to the continued work of this office to resolve unsolved cases. For example, this office has worked in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to test sexual assault kits and to collect DNA from offenders who are legally required to provide it.

Cold Case Spotlight

The 2001 murder of Loni Okaruru, a transgender woman, remains one of the 43 cold cases identified for renewed investigation under this grant funding. Ms. Okaruru was found murdered in Hillsboro, Oregon. This horrifying crime shook the community then and continues to cause pain today. Copied below is a news clipping regarding this case from 2001.

If you have any information on this murder, or any cold cases in Washington County, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

Adam Michael Wallace Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Measure 11 Crime (Photo) - 10/26/20

HILLSBORO, Ore.- On October 23, 2020, Adam Michael Wallace pleaded guilty to two counts of using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct and two counts of luring a minor. Mr. Wallace was sentenced to 30 years in prison by Judge Erik Buchèr. Senior Deputy District Attorney Allison Brown prosecuted the case against the defendant.

The defendant is a convicted sex offender and was released from prison in 2017. In March of 2019, law enforcement in Marion County, Oregon conducted a traffic stop and arrested the defendant who was driving with a juvenile at the time. Investigators conducted a search warrant on the defendant’s phone and found a significant amount of text messages and photos. Investigators were able to identify multiple minors that the defendant was having unlawful contact with. Four of those victims were from Washington County, Oregon.

Investigators established a pattern of conduct concerning the defendant. In many cases, Mr. Wallace would contact his victims via popular social media applications and pose as a young boy. He would then engage in sexually charged messaging, ask for photos of the victims and in some instances, he purchased cell phones and credit cards for his victims. Eventually, Mr. Wallace would convince these minors to meet in person so that he could sexually abuse them.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of Detective Ryan Hickey of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state for their work on this case. This office also wishes to acknowledge and commend the victims for their bravery and strength throughout the investigation.  

In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Wallace was ordered to undergo three years of post-prison supervision. Judge Buchèr also ordered he have no contact with minors upon his release and that he stay at least three miles away from his victims. The defendant is also facing additional charges in both Marion County and Cowlitz County. Mr. Wallace will be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to serve his sentence.

Washington County Circuit Court Using CARES Act Dollars to Address COVID-19 Case Backlog (Photo) - 10/26/20

A collaboration of criminal justice partners in Washington County has developed an innovative way to clear a large backlog of criminal cases caused by COVID-19 restricted court operations ordered by the Oregon Chief Justice and Washington County Presiding Judge in March of 2020. These partners include the Washington County Circuit Court, Washington County District Attorney’s Office, criminal defense bar, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Board of Commissioners and multiple county departments.

On Wednesday, October 14, the Washington County Circuit Court began hearing cases at the Wingspan Event & Conference Center located at Westside Commons, formerly known as the Washington County Fairgrounds. In cooperation with the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the Washington County Circuit Court and our local criminal justice system is benefiting from CARES Act federal funding which has been used to create two socially distanced temporary courtrooms, dubbed “Wingspan Court.”  This marks the first official event held at the brand-new facility, which has been closed due to COVID-19.

This effort seeks to clear a backlog of more than 600 lower-level felony and misdemeanor criminal cases that have been delayed over the past six months due to COVID-19 court restricted operations. In the first eight days of operation at “Wingspan Court,” prosecutors with the district attorney’s office, working collaboratively with defense attorneys and the court, were able to resolve 123 cases.

“I’m proud of the work done not only by my staff, but also all of our partners in the court, defense bar, sheriff’s office and Washington County. This is a good example of taxpayer resources being put to good use in the interest of public safety and efficiency,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton.

“This effort is the result of strong collaboration with our criminal justice partners. While we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Wingspan Court is a creative and safe way to clean up our backlogged cases.  I’m confident, as we move forward, the court will continue to ensure our justice system provides these essential services to our community,” said Washington County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Beth Roberts.

“I’m extremely pleased that we’ve been able to work with Washington County’s Justice Services partners to meet this critical community need through the “Wingspan Court”. By utilizing this available space, we’re not only addressing the rights of defendants to a “speedy trial” during the coronavirus pandemic but also improving our response time for crime victims who are seeking justice and resolution,” said Washington County Board Chair Kathryn Harrington.

While this innovative approach is effective, it is only a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. Federal CARES Act money expires at the end of this year. Additionally, the Washington County Circuit Court has been operating at full capacity for several years and state funding has not kept up with our growing population.

To arrange a media tour of the new court, contact Stephen Mayer: Stephen_Mayer@co.washington.or.us.

Update to October 7th Forest Grove Use-of-Force Incident - 10/16/20

HILLSBORO, Ore.- As previously reported, a police use-of force incident occurred on October 7, 2020 in Forest Grove, Oregon.  The incident is being investigated by the Washington County Major Crimes Team (MCT).

The MCT is tasked with investigating both homicides and incidents involving police use of deadly force.  The October 7th incident, while not a clear case of either homicide or deadly force, did result in a person’s hospitalization.  In an abundance of caution District Attorney Kevin Barton authorized activation of the MCT to ensure that the incident would be thoroughly and transparently investigated.  Sadly, two days after the incident, the subject involved in the case passed away.

The investigation is ongoing.  All of the police officers involved in the incident were wearing body worn cameras, and that footage is being analyzed.  Other investigative tasks are in the process of being completed by detectives from Hillsboro Police, Tualatin Police, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.  Chief Deputy DA Jeff Lesowski is working closely with the detectives.

While no final determinations have been made, the following details are clear and can be released.  The incident happened after a citizen 911 caller reported that a man was causing a disturbance with a flagpole in a residential neighborhood.  Forest Grove officers contacted James Marshall, age 44, in the breezeway outside St. Anthony’s church just after midnight.  Mr. Marshall was verbally hostile and made aggressive movements towards the officers with the 10-foot long pole.  He also attempted to break windows of the church.  When an officer attempted to detain him, Mr. Marshall punched the officer in the face.  After being taken to the ground, Mr. Marshall resisted arrest for several minutes.  During the first part of the struggle, Mr. Marshall attempted to take hold of an officer’s Tazer, which discharged.  This discharge appears to have been inadvertent, and one probe struck Mr. Marshall’s arm.  Later in the struggle an officer did discharge his Tazer into Mr. Marshall’s back, in an effort to stop the ongoing resistance.  The active struggle then continued.  Eventually, Mr. Marshall stopped breathing.  Mr. Marshall did not stop breathing immediately after being Tazed.  As soon as his medical distress was apparent, police began immediate lifesaving efforts and paramedics arrived less than one minute later.  Mr. Marshall was transported to Tuality Hospital in Hillsboro, where he later passed away on Friday, October 9th.

An autopsy was conducted on Sunday, October 11th at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office pursuant to ORS 146.117.  The Medical Examiner’s determination of the specific cause of death is pending the results of toxicology testing.  Preliminary investigation, however, has indicated that Mr. Marshall had underlying health conditions and had used methamphetamine prior to the incident.  Preliminary analysis of the body worn camera footage shows that the police officers violated no laws, did not act in an assaultive manner and did not do anything that would directly explain Mr. Marshall’s medical crisis.

Further information will be released upon completion of the investigation.