Marion Co. Dist. Attorney's Office
District Attorney's Office Will Not Be Filing Any Criminal Charges Against South Salem High School Teacher - 05/20/15
On May 5, 2015, Salem Police arrested South Salem High School teacher Samuel Dufner on charges of Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree.
The crime of Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree requires proof that a person, having assumed the care, custody or responsibility for the supervision of a dependent person, intentionally or knowingly causes physical injury to the dependent person.
Based upon a thorough review of the police investigation, which included interviews of a number of involved students, the Marion County District Attorney's Office will not be filing any criminal charges against Mr. Dufner.
Any questions regarding this matter may be directed to Deputy District Attorney Doug Hanson at 503-588-5222.
Ramon Pena-Cornelio Pleads Guilty To Woodburn Murder - 05/08/15
Today, before the Honorable Jamese Rhoades, Ramon Pena-Cornelio, 21, plead guilty and was sentenced for the murder of Ricardo Hernandez, 18. After accepting the defendant's plea, Judge Rhoades found the defendant in violation of his probation on a previous conviction for Burglary in the Second Degree. For the crime of Murder he was sentenced to the presumptive sentence of life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of 25 years before he is eligible for parole. For the probation violation he was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 6 months with a post-prison term of 12 months, which was ordered to be served concurrently.
On February 6, 2014, Woodburn Police responded to a report of a stabbing at the intersection of Brown and Bradley streets. Woodburn Police located Hernandez with more than 20 stab wounds. Hernandez later died of his wounds at Salem Hospital.
Pena-Cornelio fled the scene at the time of the stabbing and was later identified as the person who stabbed Hernandez to death. After nearly a month of searching by law enforcement, members of the U.S. Marshals Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force located and arrested Pena-Cornelio on March 5, 2014, in Sacramento, California. Pena-Cornelio was extradited to Oregon and has been held in Marion County Jail pending trial which was scheduled to begin May 28, 2015.
Two other defendants are pending criminal charges that arose from this incident, therefore, additional information will not be released.
Questions about this press release may be directed to Deputy District Attorney Amy Queen at 503-804-6591.
Salem Officers Cleared in Wal-Mart Stand-Off - 05/07/15
Today a Marion County Grand Jury unanimously found that four Salem Police Department Officers were justified in their use of deadly force against Mark Cecil Hawkins, 49 years old, on April 24, 2015.
The Grand Jury convened today to hear testimony from 9 witnesses from both the Salem Police Department and the Oregon State Police who led the investigation. The Grand Jury reviewed multiple items of video exhibits from both civilian and police sources and further examined numerous pieces of evidence including photographs, scene diagrams, dispatch recordings, ballistic findings, firearms, and autopsy conclusions. The following is a factual summary of evidence found by the Grand Jury:
On Friday April 24, 2015 shortly before 11AM, Officer Robert Owings was on routine patrol near the WalMart located at 1940 Turner Road SE in Salem, Oregon. Upon checking the license plate of a truck located in the parking lot, he discovered the registered owner, Mark Hawkins, had a felony warrant out of Lane County for Failure to Appear on a charge of Delivery of a Controlled Substance. Officer Owings called for other officers to assist in contacting the occupants of a bus associated with the vehicle.
Officer Chad Galusha, a seven year veteran of the Salem Police Department, and K9 Officer Trevor Morrison, a 13 year veteran of the Salem Police Department, responded to assist. They contacted a female, Jennifer Vanta, 30 years old, in the bus which appeared to have been converted to cramped living quarters and determined she also had a warrant for her arrest. While she was cooperative with police, Mark Hawkins, who could be seen in the bus, refused to come out and hid in a back room. The two officers stood near the door of the bus and gave directives to Hawkins to come out, while Officer Owings positioned himself at the front of the vehicle.
Officer Morrison's K9 partner, Baco, was sent in to locate Hawkins and quickly alerted to his location. Officers attempted to enter the bus when Hawkins yelled at them, "which one of you guys wants to get shot first?" Officers soon heard a gunshot and retreated towards their vehicles. Baco was called out of the bus and once he reached Officer Morrison, it was evident that the K9 had sustained a gunshot wound to the side of his face. The officers called for additional units and sought the cover of a Patrol SUV parked nearby. Officer Galusha had his gun drawn and pointed at the general direction of the bus but could not ascertain the exact location of Hawkins. Hawkins fired directly at Officer Galusha, striking his duty weapon. The bullet lodged directly between the barrel and the attached tactical light mounted beneath it. Officer Galusha knew his firearm had been hit. As it was still operational, he fired 3 shots at Hawkins. At the time, Officer Galusha was unsure if he hit Hawkins.
Police Officers from many surrounding agencies responded to the WalMart parking lot to assist. WalMart was placed on lock-down and surrounding streets were closed to traffic for the safety of the public. Officers Owings, Galusha and Morrison safely left the scene and K9 Baco was immediately transported to a Salem Veterinarian for emergency treatment. It was determined that Baco had been shot in the left side of his face. His injury was non-life-threatening, he was treated and released. Baco has since been cleared to return to work with his partner.
In the meantime, the Salem Police SWAT Team was immediately deployed. Eventually, tactical teams from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon State Police, and the Portland Police Bureau were called to assist. All agencies worked together during what would be approximately a seven-hour negotiation and stand-off with Hawkins in an attempt to gain his peaceful surrender. SWAT officers were positioned throughout the parking lot area, including the roof of the store. Eventually, many WalMart customers were able to be safely escorted to their vehicles. Customers who were parked in the area of the bus remained in Walmart for their safety.
Hawkins initiated contact with police by calling 911 and was soon put in contact with a Salem SWAT negotiator. Hawkins claimed to be unharmed by the exchange of gunfire with Officer Galusha. Throughout the remaining hours, the negotiator spoke to Hawkins at length on the phone on multiple occasions and repeatedly gave Hawkins an opportunity to exit the bus unharmed. During these conversations, Hawkins make numerous threats to blow up the bus, demanding that police leave him alone, telling them that he had more than one gun, and at one point saying that, "a lot of people will die."
During this time, SWAT initiated non-life-threatening tactics designed solely to encourage Hawkins to exit the bus. Throughout the afternoon, police deployed irritant gas into the bus on several occasions and each time they did this, they were met with gunfire from Hawkins. On more than one occasion, Hawkins shot directly at police. At one point, a shot broke the glass of the windshield of an armored truck and another shot hit the turret where an officer was positioned. That SWAT officer received minor injuries as a result of shrapnel from that shot. Officer Vince Dawson, a five year veteran of the Salem Police Department and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marines who has seen active duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Officer Josh Edmiston, an eight year veteran of the Salem Police Department, were both positioned as SWAT snipers on the south side of the parking lot. While using a patrol vehicle as cover, they both heard a gunshot fly directly over their heads. At no time during these events did SWAT officers return fire.
Police continued their efforts in negotiation for nearly seven hours. During most of this event, they could not ascertain the exact location of Hawkins within the large bus. He continually refused to surrender and had shot multiple rounds directly at officers. Given that daylight would soon be lost and the continual threat to the officers and the surrounding public, officers began to shear away the sides of the bus with two specialized armored trucks in an attempt to reveal the location of Hawkins. Hawkins became visible to police and brandished a raised pistol in their direction. Three SWAT snipers fired upon him.
Sean Bennett, a 20 year veteran of the Salem Police Department, fired twice from his position on the roof of the WalMart. Officers Dawson and Edmiston each fired multiple times from their continued position behind a patrol car at the south end of the parking lot. At no time were any police officers injured.
Hawkins was hit nine times in various parts of his body. He fell from the bus and was safely taken into custody by police. He was immediately treated by medics and transported to the Salem Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.
As is common practice in these types of cases, an investigation was conducted by the Oregon State Police. A search warrant was granted for the bus and Hawkins' two other vehicles by Marion County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Jamese L. Rhoades. Detectives located numerous prescription medications, none of which belonged to Hawkins, illicit narcotics and numerous items used for the ingestion of such drugs, ammunition of various types, multiple spent shell casings, and five separate firearms.
Hawkins had only the one charge pending in Lane County, Oregon but he was a felon due to Federal convictions and convictions in Wyoming. The Grand Jury, however, did not hear evidence of his prior convictions.
An autopsy was conducted on Mark Hawkins by Oregon State Medical Examiner Karen Gunson on April 25, 2015. Hawkins had three gunshot wounds to his right side, one gunshot wound in his right upper back, two gunshot wounds in his shoulder, entering from the back, one gunshot wound entering his right arm that exited that same arm and entered his chest wall, and a gunshot wound over each knee. The cause of death was gunshot wounds to the chest. Toxicology results revealed Hawkins had Methamphetamine, Opiates and Marijuana in his system.
The Grand Jury applied the facts of this case to the legal principles dictating circumstances when deadly physical force can be used. Specifically, the Grand Jury found that the officers reasonably believed the following:
* Mark Hawkins had committed and attempted to commit felonies involving the use or
threatened use of physical force against a person;
* Deadly physical force was necessary to defend a peace officer or another person from
the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force;
* Mark Hawkins had committed felonies or attempted to commit felonies and under the
totality of the circumstances existing at the time and place, the use of such force
was justified, and
* The officers' life or personal safety was endangered in the particular circumstances
The Grand Jury's decision required reviewing all the facts and evidence available and applying them to the legal principles above. The Grand Jury concluded that the actions of all four of the Salem Police Department Officers, Officer Chad Galusha, Officer Sean Bennett, Officer Vince Dawson, and Officer Josh Edmiston, were justified and lawful.
District Attorney Walt Beglau stated, "We thank the Grand Jury for their careful review of these very difficult circumstances. We further commend the investigative team. They continue to fulfill the important requirements of the Marion County Use of Force protocol, with skill, integrity, and transparency. To all our Law Enforcement in Marion County, and in particular, those officers who risked their lives on this day: We are grateful that you continue to protect and serve."
Investigation Against South Salem High School Teacher Ongoing - 05/06/15
On May 5, 2015, Salem Police Department arrested South Salem High School teacher Samuel Dufner on charges of Criminal Mistreatment. This morning, May 6, 2015, the Marion County District Attorney's Office received a probable cause statement regarding this incident. After a review of the probable cause statement, a determination was made to not file criminal charges at this time. The investigation is on-going. Once the investigation is complete and our office has an opportunity to carefully review all of the reports and evidence in this case, a determination will be made on whether to file criminal charges.
Any questions regarding this matter may be directed to Deputy District Attorney Doug Hanson at 503-588-5222.