Latest Oregon news, sports, business and entertainment

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Prosecutor: Ex-cop had career, monetary motives to kill wife

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,

GLADSTONE, Ore. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former Gladstone police sergeant had his wife killed because he was afraid he could lose his job if she disclosed domestic abuse and knew he would benefit financially from her death.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Lynn Benton’s trial started Wednesday in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

Benton is charged with aggravated murder in connection with the death of Debbie Higbee Benton, who was found dead in her beauty salon in May 2011.

The former sergeant is accused of conspiring with his friend Susan Campbell and her son, Jason Jaynes, to kill Higbee Benton.

Defense lawyers contend the case lacks trustworthy information and hinges on the words of an informant with a violent criminal history who is looking at a possible 20-year sentence in this case.



Woman sentenced to 5 years for stealing from father

(Information from: The Daily Astorian,

WARRENTON, Ore. (AP) — A 35-year-old Warrenton woman received a five-year prison sentence for stealing about $29,000 and a pickup truck from her father while he was hospitalized.

The Daily Astorian reports a jury found Kaili Jo Roberts guilty of three counts of criminal mistreatment, aggravated theft, two counts of first-degree theft, two counts of second-degree theft and forgery.

Roberts’ sentence was lengthened after it was discovered she lied at trial, falsely claiming a large amount of the stolen money was in a bank box.

The crimes occurred between February and April 2015 when her father gave her power of attorney to allow her to pay his rent and car payments.

Roberts apologized in court, saying what hurt the most was letting her father down.

Roberts will be expected to pay about $35,000 in restitution.



Salem care facility employee accused of stealing meds

(Information from: Statesman Journal,

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Salem woman has been arrested on suspicion of stealing narcotics and pain relaxers from residents at the care facility where she worked.

The Statesman Journal reports that 29-year-old Elizabeth Roark faces charges of criminal mistreatment following a monthslong police investigation. She was arraigned in court this week and has been released from jail.

Court documents say Roark stole medication from at least seven residents of the Four Seasons Residential Care Facilities over a three-month period. Her victims were considered elderly and dependent.

The company says Roark is no longer employed at the facility.

On the advice of her attorney, Roark did not make a statement to police and turned herself in to authorities Friday.



Man gets 56-year prison sentence for Washington County rapes

(Information from: KPTV-TV,

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — A 29-year-old man accused of raping two women during separate attacks in Washington County has been sentenced to more than 56 years in prison.

KPTV-TV reports that Jose Omar Ortiz-Rico was sentenced Wednesday after being found guilty of rape, sex abuse and kidnapping.

He is accused of sexually assaulting two women in his car, one in April 2015 and the other a month later.

Authorities say one victim asked the suspect to help her move when he drove her to a secluded area and raped her. The other assault occurred after Ortiz-Rico responded to the victim’s Craigslist ad seeking a roommate.

Ortiz-Rico said Wednesday that he “can’t explain what happened” and that he was “lost” after his previous release from prison.

He was convicted of sex abuse in 2009.



The Latest: Sheriff: Standoff ‘not a peaceful occupation’

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon sheriff said under cross-examination that Ammon Bundy never physically threatened him before and during the takeover of a national wildlife refuge last winter.

But Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said the Bundy-led protest at the refuge was “absolutely not a peaceful occupation.” Ward described it as an armed clearing of a room that included military-style tactics.

Bundy’s attorney, Marcus Mumford, asked the sheriff about a cordial meeting he had with Bundy a few days into the occupation. In a clip of the meeting, Ward offered Bundy safe passage out of Oregon while praising the leader for getting his message out to the world.

Ward said he wasn’t there to pick a fight. He just wanted them to leave.


Report: Oregon’s economy is growing, job market tightening

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is experiencing “full-throttle rates of growth,” the state says in its economic and revenue forecast, which predicted businesses will find it harder to fill vacancies in a tight labor market.

The report published Wednesday says “businesses will either take bigger chances on less-than-perfect candidates or hire away workers from competitors with better compensation packages and/or work environments.” Oregon has added an average of nearly 5,000 jobs per month since 2014.

Oregon’s average wage is lower than the national’s but is at its highest since many lumber mills closed in the 1980s.

Personal income tax collections kept expanding, keeping revenues in line with forecast when the budget was drafted.

Gov. Kate Brown said Oregon is in its 50th straight month of job growth, but economic slowdowns elsewhere call for caution.


Oregon registered voters surge under novel ‘motor voter’ law

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s new ‘motor voter’ program is fueling a surge in newly registered voters in the state under a new law that automatically registers anyone who gets or renews a driver’s license.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday nearly 300,000 people have registered in the past 12 months and more than 75 percent of them those did so under the new law that took effect in January.

The increase represents a 14 percent uptick in registered voters in the state since this time last year.

Like more than 25 percent of all registered voters in Oregon, most newcomers did not choose a political party.

Oregon was the first state to put such a law into effect and others are now following suit.


Portland mayor, police union reach deal on new contract

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland police union has tentatively agreed to a new three-year contract, ending months of talks. The city’s mayor, however, says it’s not clear whether the deal will help build up the understaffed police bureau.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Mayor Charlie Hales says he hopes the agreement will help recruit and retain officers, but acknowledged that it’s uncertain.

Under the agreement, Portland will increase most top salaries by 3 percent a year for three consecutive years. In exchange, the union will drop several pending labor complaints and end a rule that allows officers to wait 48 hours after the use of deadly force before being interviewed by internal affairs investigators.

The union president said in a statement that he’s proud of the agreement but would not comment further.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.