Portland man charged with murder will walk free in rare legal de - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland man charged with murder will walk free in rare legal decision

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Deadly garage fire in southeast Portland in 2013. (KPTV) Deadly garage fire in southeast Portland in 2013. (KPTV)

He was on trial facing murder charges, but now a Portland man is being set free after a rare decision from the Oregon Supreme Court.

Mark Moore has been in jail since July 2014 charged with murder and arson in connection with a southeast Portland garage fire in 2013 that left Jeremy Purcell dead.

Moore’s defense lawyer, Russell Barnett, told FOX 12 the case against Moore was circumstantial at best, stemming from allegations made by a former friend turned criminal who had something to gain by making a plea deal.

The case went to trial in 2015, but after the trial began, prosecutors introduced a new witness. The judge granted the testimony over the objections of defense counsel.

Moore’s co-defendant, Ervin Golden Jr., asked for a mistrial.

Barnett said Moore was pleased with how the trial was proceeding and did not want a mistrial, but the trial judge granted one for both defendants anyway.

The Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday finding that a second trial for Moore would violate his constitutional rights, so the case against him is being dropped.

Now, after nearly three years in the Multnomah County Jail, all that stands between Moore and freedom is release paperwork. He’s expected to walk free sometime late Thursday or early Friday.

“It was pretty much stunned silence,” Barnett said of telling Moore the news. “He’s been in custody for a long time, and every time he thought he was getting a break it didn’t pan out, and finally it has…. I believe he truly was not involved in the fire, which makes this a much sweeter result.”

However, prosecutors – and the family members of the victim – are obviously devastated.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Glen Banfield told FOX 12 the prosecution agrees with the trial court that the expert witness testimony should have been allowed.

“While we appreciate and respect the Supreme Court’s opinion, we don’t agree with their outcome,” he said. “We are profoundly disappointed at it relates to this particular individual, who we believe took part in causing the death of Jeremy Purcell.”

Banfield said he had to break the news to Purcell’s family members Thursday and described that conversation as “very difficult.”

Due to the pending re-trial for Moore’s co-defendant, Banfield could not go into details about what the state’s case against Moore.

A date has not been set for the start of Golden Jr’s new trial.

To read the full text of the Oregon Supreme Court's ruling, go to publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S063946.pdf

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