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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A man who plead guilty to the murder of his mother and attempted murder of his father in Keizer in 2015 is now seeking to have his life sentence ruled unconstitutional.
Brett Angus Pearson plead guilty to the crimes in 2015 and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 40 years. He is now seeking post-conviction relief in a civil petition filed with the Marion County Circuit Court.
In the petition, Pearson, 21, claims that his imprisonment at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility is illegal because his attorney “failed to argue [his] sentence was unconstitutional.”
If the argument had been made, Pearson suggests, his sentence could potentially be shorter. Pearson also contends that his life sentence is cruel and unusual because juveniles cannot receive life sentences, and claims that Oregon defines a life sentence as 25 years in prison.
Keizer Police Department personnel responded to the Pearson house on Ventura Loop around 11:30 p.m. on March 5, 2014 after an alarm at the house was activated. The body of Michelle Pearson was found inside the house, while Bill Pearson was transported to Salem Hospital with “serious gunshot injuries.” He was released from the hospital about two weeks later. Brett Pearson, who was 17 at the time, and a friend, Robert Daniel Miller were arrested later that night and charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. Both are Measure 11 offenses that allowed the state to try them as adults.
According to court records, the state contended Pearson and Miller had been using methamphetamine and planning the deaths of Pearson’s parents for weeks and Pearson had intended to pay Miller for his involvement.
Pearson plead guilty to the crimes in March 2015 and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years in the death of his mother. Judge Dale Penn imposed a consecutive sentence of 10 years for the attempted murder of his father. He was also ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution.
Pearson was allowed to be sentenced to life in prison under Oregon law, but could not receive the death penalty.
In May, Pearson appealed his sentence based on a United States Supreme Court decision that life without parole sentences were unconstitutional, but the court did not address the non-life sentences in the ruling. The Oregon appeals court affirmed the decision of the lower court.
While Pearson claims a life sentence in Oregon is considered 25 years, Keizertimes could find no definition for a life sentence in the Oregon Revised Statutes. The only mention of a time period in regard to a life sentence is that the convicted must serve at least 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.
No hearing on Pearson’s latest petition had been set at press time.