Killers try for early parole in Oregon, some are already out
SALEM, Ore. - "I did something that was savage and brutal," convicted killer David Metz says on video tape during his time in prison. "I took the lives of two innocent people."
It was 1991 when Metz crawled through a window at an Oregon coast hotel as Ellen and Duncan McKinnon slept. A struggle ensured and he stabbed them both to death.
Now, Metz is trying to convince the parole board he is a good candidate for rehabilitation, decades ahead of when his 60-year sentence is up. He agreed to the sentence in 1991.
The Oregon Supreme Court cleared the way for a group of killers from the 80s and 90s to get paroled a decade or more early. Over half of those who have tried are now free on parole.
And Metz may also be released.
Metz is the latest in a string of convicted murderers in Oregon who have tried, and sometimes succeeded, in getting paroled well ahead of their release date.
Unsurprisingly, McKinnon family members are fighting to keep him behind bars.
Metz, on video, recalled his crime at his latest parole board review. "Both started yelling, 'who am I, what was I doing'" he said.
Mr. McKinnon and Metz struggled over a knife in Metz' hand. Even two decades later, Metz struggled to explain to the parole board what happened next.
"My wrist slipped out of Duncan's hand, and it went into his chest," he said with emotion.
"Mrs. McKinnon started screaming even more, crying uncontrollably," he added while trailing off with his head down, unable to describe how he killed Ellen.
If board members say yes to his release, they'll decide at another hearing how soon Metz should be placed on parole. It's the same thing other killers have tried, including Kevin Roper.
"I keep asking myself, why I didn't stop, why did I keep going forward," Roper told KATU News.
Roper murdered his friend for money. He was the first inmate under the Oregon Supreme Court decision to ask for early parole last November.
Then in December, Pepe Rivas also asked to be released early. "In my thought at that time, I needed to kill him in order to get the money," Rivas said of his crime, the execution-style shooting death of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store clerk.
In both cases, the parole board said the killers were not ready for release. But Roper and Rivas are the minority. Of the 15 inmates who have had early parole hearings so far, eight of them have been granted their freedom.
Six of the killers have already been let out this year. Two more will walk free in a few months.
The seven killers who were not released, including Roper and Rivas, get another chance next year to convince the parole board they're changed men.
That means the families of their victims will have to fight to keep them locked up. Again.
Mike McKinnon, son of Duncan and Ellen, appeared before the board with a photo to remind board members of Metz's crime. 'This is a photograph of my parents," he said, handing over an enlargement of the smiling couple.
McKinnon, who had to listen to Metz re-live the killings, wants to keep Metz from getting that parole hearing in the first place, 40 years before he expected him to walk free.
"Please do not grant Andrew Metz the hope that he is seeking to claim any part of his productive years as a member of society. He relinquished that privilege on Sept 8th, 1991," he told the board.
The parole board hasn't decided yet whether Andrew Metz is suitable for possible parole.
There are another 15 killers who will get early parole hearings in the coming months. All of them have been convicted of aggravated murders.