State v. Ventris

CourtCourt of Appeals of Oregon
Writing for the CourtHASELTON, J.
Citation164 Or. App. 220,991 P.2d 54
PartiesSTATE of Oregon, Respondent, v. Joseph R. VENTRIS, Appellant.
Decision Date24 November 1999

991 P.2d 54
164 Or.
App. 220

STATE of Oregon, Respondent,
Joseph R. VENTRIS, Appellant

(96-1155; CA A98335)

Court of Appeals of Oregon.

Argued and Submitted May 25, 1999.

Decided November 24, 1999.

991 P.2d 55
Marc D. Blackman, Portland, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the brief were Kendra M. Matthews and Ransom Blackman

Timothy A. Sylwester, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Hardy Myers, Attorney General, and Michael D. Reynolds, Solicitor General.

Before De MUNIZ, Presiding Judge, and HASELTON and WOLLHEIM, Judges.


Defendant appeals from his convictions, following a trial to the court, on two counts of aggravated murder, ORS 163.095(2)(d),1 one count of robbery in the first degree, ORS 164.415, and murder, ORS 163.115.2 He assigns error to the trial court's determinations regarding the admissibility of certain evidence. We conclude that the trial court erroneously excluded defendant's evidence that another person, and not defendant, "personally and intentionally" committed the homicide and that that error necessitates a new trial on the aggravated murder charges only. Accordingly, we affirm defendant's convictions for robbery in the first degree and murder, but reverse and remand the aggravated murder convictions.

The focus of this appeal is the murder of 89-year-old Virgil Crist, in Scappoose, on August 10, 1996. On August 9, 1996, Crist went to the Rose Valley Market in Scappoose to buy some groceries. Because he was elderly and had poor eyesight, Crist asked the clerk's help in finding a $5 bill in his wallet to pay for his purchases. Before finding the bill, the clerk flipped through seven or eight $20 bills in Crist's wallet. Defendant was in the market at that time and was in a position to see the cash in Crist's wallet.

That evening, defendant, an adolescent, attended a party in Scappoose at the home of a friend, Hansen. Defendant drank several beers and became visibly intoxicated. Sometime before 1:00 a.m., defendant left the party and walked to the home of a second friend, Blaha. Defendant arrived at Blaha's house at about 2:00 and left approximately 30 minutes later.

Wayne and Georgia Kirby spent the night of August 9-10 in their motor home, which was parked near Blaha's home. Sometime after 2:00 a.m., as Mr. Kirby was lying on the bed next to his sleeping wife, defendant entered the motor home and rifled through Mrs. Kirby's purse. The Kirbys confronted defendant and, after defendant left, Mrs. Kirby

991 P.2d 56
discovered that seven $100 bills were missing from her purse

Between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. on the morning of August 10, three of defendant's acquaintances saw him "half jogging, half walking" down Oak Street in Scappoose near the intersection of Third Street, roughly a half-mile from Crist's apartment. At some time between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m., Crist was murdered. He was beaten on the head and chest with a rod and stabbed 13 times, and his apartment was burglarized. Crist died as a result of internal bleeding caused by the stab wounds.

At around 4:00 a.m., defendant returned to his friend Hansen's house to sleep. After waking up, defendant suggested to others who had spent the night at Hansen's that they go shopping. Haymayer, another Scappoose High School student, agreed to drive the group. Defendant told Haymayer that he had $800, and showed him a stack of $100 and $20 bills.

Haymayer drove the group to a department store in Beaverton where defendant purchased a pair of pants, a shirt, and some socks. Defendant changed into the new clothes in Haymayer's car, throwing his old pants and shirt into the back of the car and tossing his old socks out in the parking lot. The group later returned to Scappoose.

On August 13, three days after the murder, Scappoose police officer Hampton and Detective Corson interviewed defendant about both the Kirby burglary and the Crist homicide. Defendant readily admitted that he had committed the Kirby burglary but claimed that he only took $60 from the purse. When Hampton told defendant that the officers wanted to speak to him about the Crist murder, defendant indicated that he was aware of that investigation. He told the officers that he had heard a description of the assailant that matched his own but denied any involvement in the murder. In fact, no such description had been released.

Hampton then told defendant that the police had recovered a substantial amount of "trace evidence" from Crist's apartment. In response, defendant admitted that he had been in the apartment a few years earlier and that he knew the victim. He again claimed that he was innocent and asked the officers what he could do to prove his innocence. When the officers replied that they would like to inspect the pants that he had been wearing the morning of the murder, defendant orally agreed to "have his pants analyzed" and said that the pants were at his parents' house. He agreed to retrieve the pants later that day.

Defendant also agreed to have the balance of the interview tape recorded. During the tape-recorded portion of the interview, Corson again asked if defendant would "retrieve those pants and show it to us and see if those pants have a tear" in the back pocket. Defendant agreed.

After the interview, Corson, Hampton, and defendant went to defendant's mother's home to retrieve the pants. Defendant went to look for the pants and then returned, explaining that his brother had borrowed the pants and that he did not know where they were.

Later that same afternoon, Oregon State Police Detective McBride, went to Scappoose High School to interview Haymayer (who had driven defendant to Beaverton) about the events of August 10. McBride knew that defendant had confessed to the Kirby burglary and that defendant had observed Crist in the grocery store. Haymayer told McBride that defendant's pants were in his car where defendant had left them on August 10. Haymayer also told McBride that defendant had told him on the morning of August 10, that he had $800, and that Haymayer had seen several $100 and $20 bills in defendant's wallet. Given that information, McBride believed that he had probable cause to seize the pants for both the Kirby burglary and the Crist murder. When McBride asked Haymayer if he would give him the pants, Haymayer agreed, retrieved the pants from his car, and handed them to McBride.

The next day, August 14, defendant, on his own accord, went to the Scappoose Police offices to speak to Hampton and Corson. Defendant again denied any involvement in the Crist murder. Hampton told defendant that his pants had been recovered from Haymayer's car and asked if defendant would

991 P.2d 57
consent to having his pants searched for forensic evidence. Hampton also asked defendant if he would consent to provide body hair and fluid samples. Defendant orally agreed to both of those procedures. In addition, defendant signed the following consent form
"You may refuse to consent to a search and may demand that a search warrant be obtained prior to any search of the property described below. If you consent to a search, anything of value as evidence seized in the course of the search can be used in a court against you. I have read this statement of my rights and understand these rights. I hereby consent to a search without warrant of the following described premises: Auto, premises, auto, or other subject of search."

The consent also listed "several things including the jeans" as items subject to the search. Defendant provided the requested hair and fluid samples and left the station. The ensuing analysis of the pants disclosed transfer stains of Crist's blood, as well as DNA from an unidentified third person.

On August 15, defendant once again voluntarily appeared at the Scappoose Police offices. At that time, McBride told defendant that he knew that defendant had murdered Crist and that "it could make a difference if he killed the old man on purpose or if he * * * was surprised by [Crist] and [Crist's] death was not premeditated." Defendant then stood up and stated:

"I'm leaving. You guys need to do some more investigating because I wasn't the only guy in there."

Defendant then walked out of the room, but almost immediately returned. Shortly thereafter McBride advised defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant then made an oral confession and gave a written statement recounting his conduct on August 10. The substance of defendant's statement was that he had burglarized the Kirbys' motor home; that he and two other men had entered Crist's apartment, where Crist had surprised them; that he hit Crist in the head with a metal rod and then ran from the apartment; that when he returned to the apartment 20 or 30 minutes later, he did not see Crist, but instead, his cohorts gave him some papers, a wallet, and a knife; and that, after taking $400 out of the wallet, he threw the wallet and papers away. Defendant further stated:

"I did not stab him. I don't remember seeing him when I came back the second time. I remember seeing some blood on the knife. I don't remember seeing blood anywhere else. One of my friends gave me the knife. I'm not sure what I did with the knife. I might have thrown it with the rest of the stuff or maybe I dropped it."

Defendant did not name his two alleged accomplices. After signing that statement, defendant was arrested.

Defendant was charged with six counts of aggravated murder, ORS 163.095, one count of murder, ORS 163.115, one count of robbery in the first degree, ORS 164.415 and one count of burglary in the first degree, ORS 164.225. Of the aggravated murder charges, two (counts 1 and 2) alleged that defendant "personally and intentionally" committed the murder, ORS 163.095(2)(d),3 and the others alleged that defendant committed the murder in an effort to conceal "the commission of a crime" or "the identity of the perpetrator." ORS 163.095(2)(e).


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7 cases
  • State v. Bellar, 050230673.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • September 30, 2009
    ...examination of contents of defendant's duffel bag stored in a car, notwithstanding consent to search by car owner); State v. Ventris, 164 Or.App. 220, 233-34, 991 P.2d 54 (1999) (car owner lacked authority to consent to the search and forensic testing of a pair of pants stored in his car by......
  • State v. Voyles, A156007
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • August 31, 2016
    ...996 (quoting Rivas , 99 Or.App. at 31, 781 P.2d 364 (emphasis added; brackets in Bartley )). The state also relies on State v. Ventris , 164 Or.App. 220, 233, 991 P.2d 54 (1999), and State v. Lynch , 94 Or.App. 168, 171, 764 P.2d 957 (1988). In both Ventris and Lynch, automobile owners volu......
  • State v. Enakiev
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • August 8, 2001
    ...476-79, 994 P.2d 147 (1999), rev. den. 331 Or. 193, 10 P.3d 944 (2000) (same). A new trial is required. See, e.g., State v. Ventris, 164 Or.App. 220, 232, 991 P.2d 54 (1999) (requiring new trial where evidentiary error was not Reversed and remanded for new trial. -------- Notes: 1. Harassme......
  • State v. Ventris
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • July 31, 2002 is before us for the second time, following our reversal of defendant's two convictions for aggravated murder in State v. Ventris, 164 Or.App. 220, 991 P.2d 54 (1999) (Ventris I). In Ventris I, we also affirmed defendant's related "convictions" for murder and robbery. Id. at 222, 991 P......
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