Day: September 16, 2014

Victor Smith found guilty of murder

By Craig Murphy Of the Keizertimes More than 10 years later, there is finally resolution in Keizer’s oldest unsolved murder. A Marion County Circuit Court jury found Victor David Smith guilty of murder with a firearm in the July 1, 2004 shooting of Keizer’s Phillip Johnson outside Johnson’s apartment. Following closing arguments Tuesday morning, the jury deliberated for about four hours before returning with the verdict. The verdict carries a life sentence, with a minimum of 25 years. Smith was a top suspect early on, due to his relationship with Imani Williams, who was also having a relationship with Johnson at the time. Prosecutors David Wilson and Paige Clarkson from the Marion County District Attorneys office emphasized letters Smith wrote Williams while behind bars. Smith was indicted on the murder charge last year. The first trial took place in June. After three days of deliberation, a hung jury resulted in a mistrial, resulting in this month’s second trial. “I want to give honor to God,” Johnson’s mom Jean Ausborn said after the verdict. “I want to thank Him for this...

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Candidates meet at forum

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Five people are running for four spots on the Keizer City Council in November. The five candidates were all present Tuesday for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum luncheon at the Keizer Quality Suites and Conference Center (the former Renaissance Inn). Current councilor Cathy Clark is the only candidate to run for the mayoral position being vacated by Lore Christopher after 14 years. Brandon Smith is looking to rejoin the council, while former longtime city employee Roland Herrera is running for the first time. The only contested race is between Amy Ripp and Matt Chappell, who ran unsuccessfully against Marlene Quinn and Eamon Bishop two years ago. Each candidate responded to questions from Dan Clem in a rotating order, then responded to several questions from the audience. In regards to city government’s role in job creation, each candidate gave a version of the same answer. “Jobs are the No. 1 priority,” Clark said. “Government can’t create them, but can get out the way and not be a hindrance.” Each candidate also expressed support for funding River Road Renaissance. “We do want to move forward with the Keizer Renaissance when (funding) becomes available,” Chappell said. “The ultimate goal is to provide that funding. It should be private and public sector funds.” While supporting the RRR plan, Clark noted a refresh is necessary. “I...

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City, KPD battle transient camps at Wallace House

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Typically, homeless camps are not an issue in Keizer. Recently, however, such an issue arose at Wallace House Park, off Rivercrest Drive at the south end of town. Officers with the Keizer Police Department got several complaints about transients camping in the park last month. Lt. Andrew Copeland led the effort in dispersing the camps. “It’s not just one or two guys,” deputy chief Jeff Kuhns said. “There’s been a pretty good number of people taking up residency in the last couple of months. I’ve never heard of any problems prior to this year. It’s not usually a problem here in Keizer.” In late August, officers posted 12 no camping signs and several eviction notices. At the time, about 10 different transient camps were found in the park boundaries. Copeland noted city staffers Elizabeth Sagmiller and Robert Johnson are working on a plan to clean up some of the underbrush in an effort to make the area less appealing to transients. “Most of our parks are located in residential areas and are pretty open to the public,” Copeland said. “If someone set up a tent in 90 percent of the parks, we’ll know about it. Wallace House is in the south part of town, with a lot of wooded area. A lot of the area will take you to the river or the...

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