Shawn Quentin Greenwood, the Vale man accused of first-degree murder in the January 2020 fatal shooting of Angela Parrish in Baker City, pleaded no contest to three lesser counts on Friday, Sept. 3 in Baker County Circuit Court.
Five other counts, including first-degree murder, were dismissed, and Greenwood’s trial, scheduled to start Sept. 8, was canceled.
Although Greenwood, 50, pleaded no contest rather than guilty, the no contest plea has the same effect as a conviction, Baker County District Attorney Greg Baxter said.
Judge Matt Shirtcliff of Baker County Circuit Court sentenced Greenwood to a total of 90 months in prison on the three convictions, which include criminally negligent homicide, a Class B felony, first-degree burglary, a Class A felony, and attempting to elude law enforcement, a Class C felony.
Greenwood will be credited for time already served. He has been in the Baker County Jail since his arrest on Jan. 13, 2020.
None of the three charges for which Greenwood was convicted carries a mandatory minimum sentence, so he will be eligible for a reduction in sentence based on good behavior and other factors.
Baxter issued a press release early Friday afternoon. It reads:
“The Baker County District Attorney’s Office offered the plea agreement in this case after it was apparent that many important pieces of evidence would not be available at trial due to the lead police investigator listening to privileged telephone conversations between the defendant and his attorney. The Parrish family members and the other victim, Nathaniel Brown, supported this decision given that this was the best possible sentence under the circumstances and that Greenwood was willing to accept some responsibility for the crimes he committed.”
“The state believed that at trial, that the defense would have focused on the actions of Baker City Police Detective Shannon Regan thereby clouding the evidence concerning the crimes committed by Greenwood. A forensic investigation by the Department of Justice caused the state to determine that it could not ethically call the detective to testify at trial. Key evidence that she touched was either suppressed or would not have been able to be presented since she could not testify.”
Charges that were dismissed, in addition to first-degree murder, are two counts of second-degree assault, solicitation of murder, and first-degree assault.
The murder and assault charges are Measure 11 crimes in Oregon, and all, upon conviction, carry mandatory minimum sentences that range from 25 years for murder to 70 months for second-degree assault.
Neither Greenwood nor his attorney, Jim A. Schaeffer of La Grande, could be reached for comment.
Baxter’s reference to Shannon Regan, the Baker City Police detective who was the lead investigator in Parrish’s death, has been at the focus of the case since early summer.
On June 25, Schaeffer filed a motion seeking to dismiss all charges against Greenwood. Schaeffer contends Regan violated Greenwood’s constitutional rights by listening to five phone calls that Greenwood, who was in the Baker County Jail, made to Schaeffer’s cellphone in 2020.
In court filings, Schaeffer wrote that he and Greenwood discussed trial strategy during those calls, which are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
After hearings in Baker County Circuit Court on Aug. 13 and Aug. 24, Shirtcliff ruled that Regan would not be allowed to testify during the trial due to the phone call issue.
Baxter did not contest the claim that Regan listened to the five calls. A forensic investigator from the Oregon Department of Justice who examined hard drives from three computers in the Baker City Police Department concluded that only Regan’s computer had been used to access and play recordings of the five calls.
Police Chief Ty Duby put Regan on paid administrative leave while a criminal investigation of the phone call allegations is ongoing.
Although Shirtcliff denied Schaeffer’s motion to dismiss all charges against Greenwood, the judge did prohibit Baxter from using at trial any evidence that Regan collected after Sept. 14, 2020, the day that her computer was used to access and listen to the five phone calls, according to the forensic investigation.
Shirtcliff didn’t decide that evidence Regan had collected or been involved in gathering prior to Sept. 14, 2020, was also inadmissable.
Shirtcliff ruled that the prosecution would have to make a motion seeking to use that evidence during trial. Shirtcliff wrote in his ruling that he would decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether to allow that evidence.
In response, Baxter filed a motion on Aug. 31 arguing that although many pieces of evidence, including bullets found at the crime scene, could not be introduced at trial because they were tainted by Regan’s handling them, he should be allowed to call witnesses who would testify about the evidence, including where it was found and its characteristics.
Schaeffer countered with a motion filed Thursday, Sept. 2, in which he argued that the prosecution should not be allowed to have witnesses testify about items of evidence that could not be introduced during trial due to the chain of custody issue created by the allegations against Regan.
The competing motions were rendered moot by Greenwood’s pleas and the cancellation of the trial.