- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The teenage son of a Keizer, Ore., woman and a friend of his were arraigned Friday on charges alleging they killed her and seriously wounded her husband.

Brett Pearson and Robert Daniel Miller II, both 17, entered no pleas during their brief appearance in Marion County Circuit Court, the Salem Statesman Journal reported (https://is.gd/zpYIEm ). They are being held without bail.

They have been charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy.

Police say that under Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing law, the charges against the teens mean they can’t be tried in juvenile court.

Friends of the boys gathered outside the court annex, hugging and crying. Inside, the annex, Pearson family members lined the front row of the courtroom, while the rest of the standing-room-only crowd was made up of teens, the newspaper said.

The Oregon state medical examiner said Friday that Michelle Pearson, 44, died of a gunshot wound to the neck and chest. She was killed Wednesday at the family home. Brett Pearson’s father, Wilfred “Bill” Pearson, 57, is expected to survive multiple gunshot wounds.

“Investigators believe this was planned. This was not spur of the moment,” Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Kuhns said.

Police on Friday released a statement from the Pearson family, whose members described themselves as “shocked and heartbroken” by the violence.

Michelle was the heart of our family and we ask for privacy as we grieve this loss and as we provide love, prayers and support to our son, father and friend Bill Pearson as he recovers from his injuries,” the statement said.

Kuhns said the father’s life may have been saved because an alarm went off when the teenagers fled the house. The alarm company called, the father answered, and an ambulance was dispatched.

“Without that alarm … this might have been a double homicide,” Kuhns said.

Investigators continued analyzing the crime scene Friday, Kuhns said.

Brett Pearson was captured early Thursday at a traffic stop, and Miller was arrested at a motel in neighboring Salem.

Kuhns said he couldn’t comment on a possible motive or other details, such as how many firearms were involved. He said investigators believe both teenagers fired.

Danny Rossman, a neighbor, said he heard three bangs about 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Miller either lived at the Pearson house or was a frequent visitor, Kuhns said.

Michelle Pearson was an accountant for the Oregon Department of Human Services and had worked for the state for more than 15 years. She taught religion classes and was a leader at St. Edward Catholic Church, where her son and husband also attended for at least 10 years.

Kuhns said that Miller is a student at McNary High School and Brett Pearson attended the Downtown Learning Center in Salem.


Information from: Statesman Journal, https://www.statesmanjournal.com

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