- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A judge Friday granted early release from prison for a man convicted in the 1998 carjack murder of the owner of a Rogue River wilderness lodge.

The Grants Pass Daily Courier (http://bit.ly/1nRsfe1 ) reports a judge ruled that Trevor Walraven can be released from the Oregon State Penitentiary in 45 days, cutting in half his 30-year sentence.

The ruling by visiting Judge Timothy Gerking in Grants Pass came after a string of witnesses - college professors, prison staff, psychologists and his attorney - testified Walraven had turned his life around.

“He cares about giving back to this world,” Michelle Inderbitzin, an Oregon State University professor who teaches in the prison system, testified on Thursday. “I would be very happy to have him as my neighbor. I would like to see him back in the community to see what he can do.”

Witnesses said Walraven is president of the 150-member Lifer’s Club at the prison, a laundry room worker, electronics whiz and sometimes teaching assistant.

Walraven was 14 when he carjacked Black Bar Lodge owner Bill Hull on a country road near Sunny Valley, forced him to drive to a remote logging road, and then shot him in the head from behind. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2000. His brother, Josh Cain, 18 at the time, was also convicted and is serving a 25-year sentence.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that sentencing a juvenile to life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment. Oregon law gives people convicted as juveniles a chance for a second look after serving half their sentence. A Josephine County judge denied the second look, but the Oregon Supreme Court told her to schedule the hearing or show cause why not.

At trial in 2000, prosecutors argued the brothers killed Hull for the thrill of it, using a .357 Magnum pistol that Walraven had given his brother as a Christmas present, while their parents were on a trip away from their rural home outside the community of Wolf Creek. Afterward, the brothers took their girlfriends out on a date in Grants Pass in Hull’s $30,000 SUV with $100 from his wallet. They later went four-wheeling and tried to sell the SUV.

Authorities said Walraven was spotted in Hull’s vehicle within hours of the slaying, and told investigators he found it on a logging road with the keys in it and Hull’s wallet on the seat. When investigators went to the site, they found Hull’s body.

Police arrested the brothers after a friend of theirs told investigators that Walraven had told him he had killed an old man. The gun was not found, but investigators matched the bullet from Hull’s head with a bullet taken from a firing range at the brothers’ rural home.

Walraven did not testify at his trial, but at the second-look hearing, he admitted waylaying Hull and shooting him in the head, adding his brother was home asleep at the time.

“I raised the gun,” Walraven said in court. “He bent at the waist . as though he was ducking. I pulled the trigger.”

“You shot him?” asked District Attorney Stephen Campbell.

“Yes sir,” Walraven replied.

“Right in the head?” Campbell asked.

“Yes sir,” Walraven said.

___

Information from: Daily Courier, http://www.thedailycourier.com

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