PORTLAND – Just a little more than a month after the Thirteenth Court of Appeals affirmed the guilty verdict of David Strickland on charges of capital murder and aggravated sexual assault, his attorney has filed a motion for a rehearing with the appeals court.
On Sept. 28, 2016, Strickland was found guilty of capital murder, accused of shooting Mollie Olgin and Mary Kristene Chapa execution style at Portland’s Violet Andrews Park on June 22, 2012. Olgin died and Chapa survived, though she suffered a traumatic head injury.
Recent court documents filed on Feb. 18 state that the indictment did not produce a valid conviction and resulted in an erroneous guilty capital murder verdict for Strickland. The documents continue to say that the indictment is not defective for jurisdictional purposes, nor because it fails to apprise the trial court or defendant of the charges brought against him as the court suggest but resulted in a jury charge error.
The documents state that paragraph one of the indictment does not charge capital murder because capital murder requires a person commit murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault.
The indictment stated Strickland “intentionally cause[d] the death of an individual, namely Molly Olgin, by shooting Mollie Olgin in the head with a firearm, and the defendant was then and there in the course of committing or attempting to commit the offense of sexual assault of Mary Christine Chapa.”
The jury, however, returned a verdict finding Strickland “guilty of capital murder as charged in the indictment.”
The documents claim that a guilty verdict as charged in the indictment would be for murder, not capital murder.
The documents highlighted a 2016 case, Flores v. State, where the court stated, “An alleged error in the jury charge may be subject to reversal on appeal regardless of whether a defendant raised an objection to it in the trial court – if that error cause the defendant egregious harm.”
Strickland’s attorney is also fighting several other aspects of the case, claiming the seizure of the his gun was unlawful as the Portland officer took it without probable cause.
His attorney also brought up the recent DNA sample taken from a pubic hair that did not match Strickland’s own provided sample.
The documents also brought up several other issues with the case including ballistic evidence that excluded Strickland’s gun, a condom brand found at the scene that didn’t match the ones he had in his backpack and gloves thought to be worn during the attack did not contain the two girl’s DNA. Several eye witnesses also stated that Strickland was at his parents house at the time of the shooting.
The documents claim that a different suspect, whose name is being withheld, is responsible for the crimes. Two eye witnesses claimed they saw and heard the suspect at Violet Andrews Park, and after he claimed he was nowhere near the park, cigarettes and an energy drink were found at the scene of the crime which contained his DNA.
Also, duct tape used to bind the girls was the same the suspect used at work, and Chapa’s cellphone was found outside the suspect’s girlfriend’s place of work.
The motion ended stating, “... the defendant prays the court grant this motion and order that the conviction be reversed and rendered or that a new trial be conducted in the above-entitled and numbered cause.”
There will be more on this story as it develops.