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Day: March 7, 2014

Son in homicide was no longer at MHS

Courtesy photo
Brett Pearson and Robert Miller.


Of the Keizertimes

The 17-year-old son charged with murdering his mom and shooting his dad on March 5 was a former McNary High School student.

Brett Angus Pearson was arrested around 1 a.m. March 6, about 90 minutes after officers with the Keizer Police Department responded to an alarm at the family home on Ventura Loop North.

Brett’s 44-year-old mom, Michelle Yvonne Pearson, was found shot to death. His father, 57-year-old Wilfred “Bill” Pearson, received “serious gunshot injuries” but was taken to Salem Hospital for treatment.

Both Brett Pearson and his friend, 17-year-old Robert Daniel Miller II of Keizer, were arrested. Both were arraigned Friday afternoon.

John Honey, principal at McNary High School, confirmed the enrollment status of both teens.

“Brett Pearson was formerly enrolled at McNary High School,” Honey said Thursday. “Robert Miller is currently enrolled.”

Pearson had started the school year as a junior, while Miller was a senior.

Honey could not confirm rumors about why Pearson was no longer enrolled at MHS. It was later confirmed Pearson was a student at Downtown Learning Center in Salem.

“Due to student privacy laws, I can only confirm if students were enrolled or not,” Honey said. “Brett started the school year at McNary. I don’t know when he withdrew, transferred or whatever happened with him.”

Honey said the mood at McNary on Thursday mirrored the rest of the town’s.

“It is as shocking for McNary High School as it is for the Keizer community,” Honey said. “The school’s focus is to keep the kids’ focus on school. We want to maintain a high academic level. We want to provide any kind of emotional support as needed, whether it be for students who are friends (with the suspects) or if they’re just upset.”

According to Honey, steps taken to help students weren’t used much.

“We set up a crisis team this morning,” he said. “We had two extra counselors. We didn’t have much foot traffic, so we let them leave. We reminded counselors to prioritize kids that came in. There were a few kids that came in, but it more of an in and out basis. Kids were checking in, saying things like, ‘I heard this had happened.’ It was nothing more than we would have expected.”

Following Friday afternoon’s arraignment, the family of Bill and Michelle Peterson released a statement.

“We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragic events of March 5, 2014, that resulted in the passing of our wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend Michelle Y. Pearson,” the statement read. “Michelle was the heart of our family and we ask for privacy as we grieve this loss and as we provide love, prayers, and support to our son, father and friend Bill Pearson as he recovers from his injuries. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and love for our family and would especially like to thank our faith communities for their continuing support and prayers.”


Award winner thanks community

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the many friends who have sent me messages of congratulations on the First Citizen Award.  My wife, Sue, and I moved to Keizer in 1979; this has been a wonderful community to raise a family and operate a business.

There are literally hundreds of people who volunteer in Keizer every day. I feel honored to have received this award; thank you.

John Doneth

Manager, attorney tell it like it is

To the Editor:

This past week I attended the city council meeting to find out more about a resolution to have a settlement agreement about the Rawlins’ property at Keizer Station.  I also wanted to publicly thank City Manager Chris Eppley and City Attorney Shannon Johnson for going before a state legislative committee that was considering a bill that would create a great injustice to Keizer residents.

The purpose of Eppley and Johnson’s appearance was to show how  unjust the bill proposed by state Rep. Brian Clem from Salem was. It has become apparent that Brian Clem has something against Keizer by proposing his bill.  He did not receive a great welcome greeting when he appeared before the city council about a year ago and he is sticking his finger in our city’s eye to get revenge.

During this week’s council meeting Johnson explained, in some detail, how the city will benefit from the resolution. We may now have a solution to a costly problem  that would have cost every property owner higher taxes.

Bill Quinn

Support Roland Herrera for council

To the Editor:


With Mr. Herrera’s hat in Keizer’s “political circle.” I believe the community will finally see true citizen representation. Not the back door stuff that has blanketed Keizer for the past 15 years. Remember the Walmart fiasco? How about the tax on cell phones without the city council seeking input from the folks who will pay for those charges…us, the citizens of Keizer.

It’s time for changes. We need people that represent us, people that listen and actually do things that we want and need. Enough of the “old school” politics that has ruined our country.

Thank you Roland. You have my support.

Bert S. China

Who will take care of your pet?


When billionaire Leona Helmsley passed away in 2007 she left her dog, Trouble, $12 million, quickly making Trouble the wealthiest canine in the world.  A court found the $12 million bequeath unconscionable, and whittled it down to a meager $2 million.  The court determined that $2 million was more than enough to provide Trouble with $190,000 in yearly expenses for the rest of her life.

Although most of the United States’ 85 million pet owners don’t have enough money to provide $190,000 worth of annual care to their pets, the average pet owner values the companionship and well-being of their pet just as much as Ms. Helmsley.  This fact begs the question: what will happen to your pet when you pass away?

In 2001, the Oregon Legislature passed trend-setting laws that provide Oregon residents’ with the peace of mind that their pets can be cared for through the use of “pet trusts.”  In simple terms, a pet trust is where a pet owner sets aside an amount of money for the care of her pet, names a caretaker to care for the pet, and also names a trustee to manage the trust money.  The pet trust agreement can describe the level of care that the caretaker must provide, such as what kind of medical care, and when to euthanize.  When the pet owner passes away, the caretaker assumes ownership of the pet, and the trustee manages the money and makes disbursements to the caretaker.  This arrangement continues until the pet dies, at which time any left over money in the pet trust will be distributed as the pet owner indicated (such as to the pet owner’s children, or a charity, etc.).  The pet owner can also name a trust enforcer, which is a person that has the power to periodically observe the pet and view the pet’s veterinary reports.  A trust enforcer is meant to dissuade neglect of the animal and fraud or haphazard spending of the trust funds.  A trust enforcer has standing in court to enforce provisions of the pet trust.

To demonstrate, say Alice wants to make sure that her cat, Charlie is properly cared for after her death.  Alice settles a pet trust with $15,000, naming her daughter, Betty as trustee, her neighbor Dora, as caretaker, and her son, Eric as trust enforcer.  Upon Charlie’s death, the remainder of the trust funds will be distributed to Eric and Betty in equal shares.  When Alice passes away, Dora takes care of Charlie.  Betty distributes funds to Dora periodically for the benefit of Charlie.  Eric, who lives close to where Charlie lives, can stop by once a month and check on Charlie.  Several years later, Charlie passes away and Betty still has $5,000 under her management in the pet trust.  Betty distributes $2,500 to Eric, and $2,500 to herself.

The pet trust can be arranged in a variety of ways.  For example, the trust enforcer and trustee can be the same person.  Or, the trust enforcer, caretaker, and trustee can be the same person (although this might not be the best option because there may be no third party to periodically check on the well-being of the pet).

Conclusion—Pets play an integral part in many people’s lives.  Through the use of a pet trust, an Oregon pet owner can ensure that her pet is properly cared for after her death.

(Adam Famulary is an attorney who specializes in estate planning and asset protection needs.  He can be reached at [email protected])

Are we legalizing discrimination?


Life was easier when all we were asked to vote on was a school bond or a candidate for sheriff.  Now we may be asked to vote on how religious business owners should treat same-sex couples.  There are probably none among us wise enough to decide that question.

An Oregon baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because he felt it would violate his religious beliefs.  The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries determined that this in turn violated the civil rights of that couple.  Oregon law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Fox News quoted the baker’s response as “I’ve never seen a government entity use a law to come after somebody because they have a religious view.”

There is the heart of what we must decide.  Oregon BOLI responded to the complaint against the baker not because of his religious beliefs, but because he discriminated against the same-sex couple, citing those beliefs as justification.  That’s not just hair-splitting.  Churches are often given religious exemptions to civil rights laws regarding sexual orientation. Businesses are not. Even though a proposed law names only bakeries and wedding photographers, it involves every Oregonian.  We’d be asked to decide if we are governed by religious beliefs or by Oregon law.  There is one constitution and three million personal faiths.

I admire the baker simply because he has the courage of his convictions.  It is only when his beliefs are used to justify harm to others that I fall away.  Though we cannot know the depth of his concern for any humiliation, embarrassment, or insult caused to the same-sex couple, it looks like confidence in his own religious views overrode any thought of theirs.

My understanding of Christianity certainly has no more validity than the baker’s, but Christianity is based on a Savior who said “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician” in response to criticism from religious hierarchy for sitting down with those perceived as sinners. I’m not suggesting the baker would do better to hang out with sinners, only that he lost an opportunity to show any compassion or humility to a couple he viewed as needing redemption.

The discrimination is apparent when you choose a single sin as objectionable to the exclusion of all others.  You have to pass by cautions against a host of other sins in the Bible in order to find any mention of homosexuality.  I wonder if the baker would refuse a wedding cake to an obese couple.  Gluttony is included in the Seven Deadly Sins.  Should the baker accept $200 for a big order while a man across the street panhandles for dinner?  Avarice is a sin.  Would he bake a cake for a divorcee?

Passage of this law might beget more laws, some more harmful.  Should an attorney be allowed to refuse help to a same-sex couple seeking joint ownership of property?  Should a pharmacist be able to refuse a prescription?  Should a landlord be able to deny housing?

I end this where I started, feeling unqualified to vote on this question.  The discussion about rights in America has swung so far toward individual “freedom” that any corresponding responsibility toward the good of society is ignored.  My beliefs are no more important than yours and do not give me license to treat you badly.  This is not going to be easy whether this bill comes to a vote or not.  Finding the balance between personal faith and rendering unto Caesar is never simple.

(Don Vowell lives in Keizer.  He gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)

We have a social contract, don’t break it

Is it simply the expression of an innate human condition?  That is, that we seemingly can’t easily get along with one another and when we don’t we try to deny the nation’s freedoms to those with whom we disagree.

The latest dust-up in Oregon has to do with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s decision not to go to federal court to defend the ballot measure to prevent marital status between persons of the same sex.  But it gets back to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and whether Oregonians will abide by it,  reference being made to Amendment 1, Freedom of Religion, and its corollary, freedom from religion, and decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maybe it’s due to a failure by our public schools to adequately educate our youth.  Maybe it’s the result of poor parenting or no parenting at all.  Whatever the cause, it has to do with the many who call themselves Americans yet stand for and bear allegiance to that which was taught them during their upbringing years; too often, apparently, taking precedence over the U.S. Constitution and subsequent passage of laws by democratic procedures.

We must remember when conducting business in this nation that the freedoms we have were fought by war to establish while people died to keep and sustain them.  They were organized into a document, signed in 1787 by the founding fathers, those persons who were among the earliest advocates of human rights, rule of law, human dignity and social justice.  Further, they’ve been the guiding principles and values that have been case-tested and practice-survived for more than 225 years.

There is not only the gay marriage issue having to do with the test of our freedoms for all but also discrimination against persons of darker skin color.  We have a president whose mother was a white American and father from Africa’s Kenya.  Yet, no proposal of his for consideration by the U.S. Congress is adopted by members of the Republican Party there, it’s commonly concluded, due to his “wrong” pigmentation, even though this human being is unusually bright, a significant contributor to our society, a faithful husband and a good father.

The coming-out of persons whose sexual orientation is different from the majority is a more recent phenomenon as they hid themselves and were afraid for their very lives to openly announce and publicly display their sexual preference.  The hiding away has changed but not the hostility and violence perpetrated by those who believe America’s freedoms should be denied to these Americans.

Is it not a matter of action whose time has come to make a greater effort that the one that has been made to date to end these forms of bias, prejudice, discrimination and hatefulness?  That which makes up so much of the way we treat each other in this time when we are alive and can do good work for the present and found a universal future based on peace and good will here at home.  Can we not show by our example, a world that seems to be coming apart, that we can respect each other, regardless of our personal religious, economic, social rather than saying what we believe in but not practicing it?

Beyond the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights we have the opportunity to practice what may be best identified as the social contract.  Most of us learn as children what it means to be civil and how to co-exist and get along in a society with rules of conduct where one person’s fist is not allowed at will to meet another person’s nose any more than yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre—where there is no fire—makes inherent good sense, even if for no other reason.

When we act out with verbal comments and physical violence, denying freedom for LGBTs, persons of darker color, the right to choose, sane gun control restrictions and a whole host of other reasons for conducting ourselves, then we run the risk of losing all our freedoms.  Chipping away at our freedoms one by one can soon find us a mirror image of Germany’s Weimar Republic, circa 1933.  It’s advised that we change our far-too-often negative ways before it is too late.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)