A third member of the infamous “Redmond 5” — the group of teens convicted for the brutal murder of Barbara Thomas in 2001 — has been granted parole. It’s the second time in recent weeks that a member of the group has won parole.
Prosecutors said Seth Koch was the first to beat Thomas with a wine bottle before shooting her in the head.
Well before he was District Attorney for Deschutes County, Steve Gunnels was a Chief Deputy District Attorney who responded to the crime scene.
“It was a disturbing crime scene. I’ve been to a number of crime scenes over the years and it was an awful one to experience. I will never forget it,” Gunnels said.
Koch was granted parole on Tuesday. He will be released in June.
Alleged ringleader Justin Link was granted parole in March. He will be released Friday.
“They get released to a home that has been arranged while they’ve been in custody. Some person they they know they can live with. Then once they’re released, they’ll still be under supervision by a parole officer,” Gunnels said.
Lucretia Karle was released on parole last year. She was sentenced to 25 years.
Prosecutors said the “Redmond 5” planned to take Thomas’ car and flee the country to Canada. The five teens, including Thomas’ son, Adam, went through with the crime so there wouldn’t be a witness.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a life sentence without possibility of parole given to juveniles was unconstitutional.
Before she left office, former Gov. Kate Brown commuted criminal sentences given to those who were minors at the time of the crime. Four out of the “Redmond 5” made Brown’s commutation list.
“The release at this time is premature in my opinion. I personally don’t believe it’s appropriate to change the law after somebody’s been sentenced to allow them to be released. Particularly for such a heinous crime as this,” Gunnels said.
Adam Thomas was 18 at the time of the killing. He will continue to serve his life sentence.