▶️ Supporters of ‘Ezra’s Law’ vow renewed effort in Salem; boosts penalties for crimes causing catastrophic injuries

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

In 2013, then 23-year-old Jessica Haynes was involved in a domestic violence situation and was shot her in the head by Thomas Knapp leaving her severely injured.

“It hasn’t really just impacted me it’s impacted my whole family.” Haynes said. 

Roy Fast was just 6-months old in 2013 when his mother’s boyfriend, Robert Pinksy, assaulted him, permanently injuring the boy.

“He never admitted to anything but from the evidence it shows that he actually took him by the ankle, picked him and then swung him and then bashed him against we don’t know what,” said Elizabeth Crouch, Roy’s grandmother.

And in November 2017, 2-year-old Ezra Thomas was being watched by his mother’s boyfriend Josue Mendoza-Melo. That morning, according to court documents, Mendoza-Melo shook boy repeatedly, smacking his head on the floor.

“The doctor said that that he’d most likely not make it to be a teenager,” said Tina Jorgensen, Ezra’s grandmother.

Three different cases, all with one thing in common: their offenders’ charges fell under Oregon’s Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentencing.

Under the law, the maximum sentence for attempted aggravated murder is 120 months.

Roy’s offender was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison.

Jessica’s offender received nearly six years.

Ezra’s family settled their case in September of last year and Mendoza-Melo was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

“We were told that if we went to trial it would most likely be 60-90 months,” Jorgensen said. 

Monday, State Representative Daniel Bonham of the The Dalles provided details on “Ezra’s Law,” legislation that would increase the possible sentence for offenders that cause catastrophic injuries to their victims.

If the law passes, offenders would get 25 years in prison.

A similar bill was introduced in Salem last session, but it died in committee.

Supporters plan to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year.

They say they’ll be there to speak when the bill reaches committee, helping the lawmakers put a face to the crimes and to the victims the legislation could possibly help in the future.

The family’s say, it’s a step in the right direction.

“It would mean that the sentence that the guys that do the assault, the sentence that they got would be more comparable to the crime that they committed,” Crouch said. 

“Ezra’s injuries are life changing, and if someone’s gonna hurt someone so badly where it’s going to take their quality of life away they deserve more than the 10 years that is the law today,” Jorgensen said. 

 

 

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