Oregon murderer mistakenly released from prison - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon murderer mistakenly released from prison, then taken back into custody

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Marc Trice was taken back into custody in Washington County two days after his release. Marc Trice was taken back into custody in Washington County two days after his release.
Sandra Lee Raph was brutally killed by Marc Trice when both were teenagers in 1993. Sandra Lee Raph was brutally killed by Marc Trice when both were teenagers in 1993.

Oregon's Department of Corrections mistakenly released a murderer this week who killed a 16-year-old girl in 1993.

Marc Trice, who himself was a teenager at the time he killed Sandra Lee Raph in La Grande, has been serving time in the state prison system ever since 1994, and he's due for release and post-prison supervision this coming September.

But a snafu on the part of prison staff at the Oregon State Penitentiary allowed him to be released to the general public Monday, and Trice moved to an approved address in Washington County to begin his new life.

"This never should have happened, never, never," said the victim's mother Jean Raph. 

Raph tells FOX 12 her family feared for their lives after getting a call this week saying that her daughter's killer was set free from prison, a month early, and without warning. 

"I was absolutely terrified, I had no idea what would happen. I didn't know if he would come after me, or my children. This has brought back all of the memories from 21 years ago," said Jean Raph. 

Department of Corrections officials soon realized the error and moved quickly to take him back into custody.

They went to the Washington County address to contact Trice on Wednesday, but he wasn't home. They waited until around 9:30 p.m. when Trice returned and they took him into custody, booking him temporarily at the Washington County Jail.

DOC officials said Trice understood what happened and he fully cooperated with police. He's now in custody at the Coffee Creek Intake Center in Wilsonville.

The circumstances that led to Trice's early release stem from old state guidelines that allow some convicts to be eligible for a 30-day release to the community prior to their actual parole date.

Trice was convicted before Measure 11 was enacted, so those old state laws applied to his sentencing guidelines. That's what led prison officials to release him to a parole officer's supervision on Monday, which was the 30-day mark for his sentence.

However, Department of Corrections regulations do not allow for the early release of convicts classified as "dangerous offenders," a label that applies to Trice. The DOC says it's now investigating and taking steps to ensure the early release of dangerous offenders doesn't happen again.

"We acknowledge that Mr. Trice should not have been released prior to Sept. 18, 2014," said Jeremiah Stromberg, a representative of the Department of Corrections, in a statement. "While the public was never in danger, we are extremely sorry for the fear and confusion this caused the victim's family. We are reviewing the events that led up to Mr. Trice's release to ensure this never happens again."

Jean Raph said the state's apology does not make up for the mistake. 

"I'm devastated, and I don't understand how they can do this, this is not justice,"she said. 

Sandra Lee Raph's sister described her as a "very sweet and caring person" who would "do anything for her friends and family and even those she didn't know."

She said she considered Trice to be family, which made the murder especially heart-breaking.

"The day Marc took my sister's life was the worst day of my life. I lost two family members and it tore both our parents' lives apart," she said.

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