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    1. #1
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010

      James Charles Tooley Receives 70 Years For 2008 OR Double Murders

      Aggravated murder trial begins in Gresham double slaying

      On a hot summer day in August 2008, a utility worker knocked on the door of a Gresham townhouse and noticed an awful odor and a lot of flies.

      Gresham police broke in and found the bodies of a married couple in their 20s sprawled across the floor. The couple, known drug dealers, had been dead, each from a bullet wound to the brain, for up to 13 days.

      Over the following months, investigators would link another drug dealer, James Charles Tooley, 37, to the deaths of Melinda Beth Kotkins and Anthony Patrick Cooper. Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, prosecutors opened their case against Tooley by outlining the evidence:

      Tooley was the last known person to see Kotkins and Cooper on July 24, 2008.

      Tooley's fingerprint was found on a gun case in the house in the 800 block of Northeast Third Street.

      Surveillance video taken by Gresham police investigating drug activity at the couple's home showed Tooley showing up in late July. He originally told police he didn't go inside, but the next day, he said he went inside and panicked when he saw Cooper's body.

      "Each time, he changed his story," said prosecutor Don Rees.

      Tooley's cousin is expected to testify that Tooley bragged about beating "a double-murder rap."

      Jurors will hear recorded jail phone calls in which Tooley reportedly persuades his wife to deliver $2,400 in cash to a nurse at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Northwest Portland. The nurse's son is another inmate, whom Tooley allegedly had enlisted to kill his cousin once he bailed himself out with the $2,400.

      "They're not trying to stick a needle in your arm!" prosecutors said Tooley can be heard telling his wife.

      If convicted of aggravated murder, Tooley faces the death penalty. But jurors could decide to give him a true-life sentence or life in prison with the possibility of being freed after 30 years.

      Wearing a khaki suit, Tooley sat calmly as his attorneys mounted their defense. Attorney John Gutbezahl told jurors the case against their client isn't as solid as prosecutors contend.

      Investigators have found no DNA evidence linking Tooley to the deaths. They have no weapon. And they don't have a confession, even after hours of police interviews.

      What's more, Gutbezahl told jurors they would have to judge the veracity of some witnesses, including those who have criminal histories and made deals with the prosecution.

      "There is nothing scientific, nothing forensic about this case," he said. "... We're left with circumstance, supposition and snitches."

      Gutbezahl said jurors also would have to decide how damning the statements Tooley supposedly made to his cousin are. For example, although Tooley reportedly said, "I did it," it's not clear what he's referring to.

      Gutbezahl pointed to another man he said had a motive to kill the couple. He also said jurors shouldn't rule out the possibility that it was a murder-suicide.

      Tooley's attorneys have notified the court that they may present an alibi defense -- that Tooley was on the Oregon coast or in central Oregon when the killings occurred. Gutbezahl described his client as a working family man who injured himself, became addicted to OxyContin and found himself immersed in the drug world.

      The trial, held in Judge John Wittmayer's courtroom, is expected to last four weeks or less.


    2. #2
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Portland jury finds James Tooley guilty in double murder in Gresham

      A Multnomah County jury has found James Charles Tooley, a former oxycodone dealer, guilty of the 2008 aggravated murders of two other dealers in their Gresham townhouse.

      Judge John Wittmayer read the jury's verdict this morning. Tooley -- who had entered the courtroom moments earlier and winked and smiled at his family -- glanced down but otherwise showed little emotion.

      The jury will reconvene over the next two or three days to decide whether the 37-year-old should get the death penalty for the deaths of Melinda Beth Kotkins and Anthony Patrick Cooper, who were both in their 20s when they were each shot in the head. Their bodies were found days later, and a dog trapped in the home ate parts of their remains.

      Jurors also could decide to give Tooley a life sentence or life in prison with the possibility of being freed after 30 years.

      The verdict capped 2 1/2 weeks of trial and three days of deliberation.

      Prosecutors argued that Tooley told three people that he was the killer. Tooley's cousin testified that Tooley said he killed Kotkins first, then Cooper.

      Prosecutor Chris Ramras pointed to recordings of jail phone calls in which Tooley directs his wife to give $2,400 to the mother of an inmate. The inmate, who used the money to bail himself out of jail, testified that Tooley wanted him to kill his cousin.

      In phone conversations played to the jury, Tooley declares that this is a matter of "life and death." He also seems to be aware of the risk he's taking by directing his wife over a jail phone to drop off the money. He says he knows his conversations are going to hurt his case -- implying that he knows a jury may one day listen to the recordings.

      Investigators also found Tooley's fingerprint on a gun case found in the house.

      But defense attorneys said Tooley wasn't orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot from jail -- rather, he planned to pay the inmate $2,400 so the inmate could supply him with drugs in jail. Defense attorney John Gutbezahl said Tooley was a drug addict, and to him, existing without drugs was a matter of "life and death."

      Defense attorneys also discounted the words of the three people who testified that Tooley said he was the killer. For one, they argued that the inmate had reason to lie because prosecutors offered him reduced prison time in exchange for his testimony. As for the cousin, defense attorneys said he didn't know any of the details of the killings and relatives say he lied.

      What's more, defense attorneys said it's not surprising that Tooley's fingerprint was on the gun case because he helped Cooper pick out the gun he bought.


    3. #3
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Wife Says Double Murderer Cared For Family

      The wife of James Tooley testified this morning that her husband is devoted to their family and should not be given the death penalty.

      On Monday, a Multnomah County jury found Tooley guilty of aggravated murder, solicitation to commit aggravated murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Melinda Kotkins and Anthony Cooper in July 2008.

      Tooley was looking to take over their drug operation, prosecutors say.

      Tooley’s defense team showed family pictures of Melissa and James Tooley on their wedding day. As Melissa Tooley recalled that day in September 2001, she fought back tears.

      She says her family’s life has been flipped upside down since her husband’s 2009 arrest.

      “He is a nice guy,” Melissa Tooley says. “He made every one laugh.”

      Melissa Tooley says her family is devastated over what happened. She told jurors she did not know her husband was addicted to prescription pain medicine, but knew he had back problems.

      “He had problems with the nerves in his back,” she says.

      She fought to maintain her composure as the defense displayed handwritten notes to James Tooley from his two children.

      “He is an amazing dad,” Melissa Tooley says. “He spoiled (his kids) rotten.”

      In one of the notes, James Tooley's daughter wrote to her father in jail. The letter read, “Dear Dad, come home now. I miss you.”

      The jury must now decide if James Tooley will face the death penalty or life in prison.


    4. #4
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      Oct 2010
      Tooley avoids death penalty

      A Multnomah County jury rejected the death penalty for double-murderer James Charles Tooley on Friday, Dec. 3.

      But the jury that found him guilty last week of murdering a Gresham couple in July 2008 did find enough mitigating circumstances to recommend a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years for each of the murders.

      Judge John Wittmayer will formally sentence Tooley, 37, of Newberg on the two aggravated murder counts Wednesday, Dec. 15.

      If he imposes the two recommended sentences consecutively – or to be served one after the other as opposed to at the same time – the result would be a true-life sentence because Tooley wouldn’t be eligible for parole for 60 years.

      Wittmayer also will decide what sentence to impose for three other charges of which the jury found Tooley guilty – two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and one count of solicitation to commit aggravated murder.

      While in jail on aggravated murder charges, Tooley hired a hit man to silence a witness against him.

      During the December sentencing hearing, relatives of both murder victims – Melinda Kotkins, 22, and Anthony Cooper, 26 – are expected to make statements.

      One of Kotkins’ sisters expressed displeasure with the jury’s recommended sentence on Friday.

      “I’m not happy,” she whispered while dabbing tears with a tissue.


    5. #5
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Double murderer gets 70 years

      James Charles Tooley sentenced for life with possibility of parole for Gresham killings

      James Charles Tooley, 37, of Newberg was sentenced on Wednesday, Dec. 15, to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years for each of the two people he killed – Melinda Kotkins, 22, and Anthony Cooper, 26.

      Because Judge John Wittmayer ruled that the sentences be served consecutively, or one after the other instead of at the same time, the total of 60 years behind bars results in a true life sentence.

      Add to that the 10 years Wittmayer sentenced Tooley on his conviction for solicitation to commit aggravated murder, and Tooley will serve a total of 70 years in prison.

      Two weeks ago, a Multnomah County jury rejected the death penalty for Tooley after finding him guilty of two counts of aggravated murder for the slaying of the Gresham couple in July 2008.

      While in jail on the aggravated murder charges, Tooley hired a hit man to silence a witness against him. The intended victim was his cousin, who was like a brother to him before the cousin informed police that Tooley bragged about the murders. He also told two other people he killed the couple.

      As outlined during the two-week trial, Tooley shot both victims execution style in the back of the head in their Gresham townhouse in the 800 block of Northeast Third Street on July 24, 2008.

      The badly decomposed remains of the victims were found two weeks later when a bill collector noticed an odor at the townhouse.


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