By Aubrey Wieber
One of the convicted killers in a notorious Central Oregon murder case has been denied parole.
Mark James Wilson was convicted in 1988 of one count of aggravated murder and a count of murder for his role in the slayings of Terrebonne couple Rodney and Lois Houser. He was sentenced to life in prison with the eligibility for parole after 30 years for the aggravated murder and 10 years for the murder charge, giving him a total sentence of 40 years. Wilson requested a parole hearing, allegedly at the request of his family.
The entire four-person parole board found Wilson had made remarkable steps toward reform while in prison. However, a three-person majority ruled against Wilson’s possible parole. Wilson can reapply for a parole hearing in two years.
While in high school in 1986, Wilson became friends with Randy Guzek, and under Guzek’s direction started carrying out burglaries and taking excessive amounts of drugs.
The spree culminated in the burglary of the Houser home and their murder, which took place when Guzek and Wilson both anticipated the couple would be home, later confessions claimed.
Guzek was deemed the ringleader of the brutal crime and received a death sentence. He remains on death row after having four trials and being sentenced to death four times.
Wilson presented evidence largely through witness testimony that he has been reformed during his 28 years in prison. He has been successful in jobs at several prisons during his tenure and is involved in groups aimed at helping inmates develop empathy and provide hospice care for dying inmates, according to a document outlining the board’s decision.
Wilson testified that growing up he was anti-social and didn’t fit in. While in prison, he claims he consciously worked to be more outgoing and positive.
Wilson either led or participated in prison groups focusing on mentoring, meditation, insight development and reconciliation, the board’s decision shows.
However, the board’s majority found Wilson lacked the maturity sought in a parole candidate.
The board detailed several things it found troubling, perhaps the largest being Wilson’s inability to articulate why he shot Rodney Houser 20 times. Wilson repeatedly maintained that the murders were not planned.
Furthermore, during a penalty phase trial for Guzek in 2010, Wilson testified that he and Guzek were equals in the murder. However, during Wilson’s parole hearing he claimed to be a follower, even back to the early days of his relationship with Guzek when the burglaries started. He said he would have never killed Rodney Houser had it not been for Guzek.
The conflicting statements were unnerving for the board.
“Offender’s decision to be more combative and resistive during the 2010 trial about issues with which he seemed to agree at the 2017 hearing caused the Board to question his maturity and decision making,” the decision states.
— Reporter: 541-383-0376, firstname.lastname@example.org