The so-called ringleader of a group of teenagers who killed a Tumalo woman in 2001 in shocking fashion will be resentenced for a fourth time following a recent Oregon Court of Appeals decision.
In a 2-1 ruling released Wednesday, the court held there are constitutional problems with how Oregon sentences children convicted of aggravated murder.
Justin Alan Link, 35, who was sentenced in 2016 to life with parole possible after 30 years, will most likely return to Deschutes County Circuit Court in Bend, where he could receive a lighter sentence.
“I think today’s decision recognizes children are different,” said Thaddeus Betz, Link’s trial attorney since 2014. “They are different in maturity, and they are uniquely capable of reformation. All of this law builds on the very sound brain science that says a juvenile brain is still developing well through their teenage years.”
Link is an inmate of the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. In 2003, Deschutes Circuit Judge Alta Brady found him guilty and sentenced him — for the first time — to life without parole.
The appellate ruling also applies to one of Link’s co-defendants — Seth Koch, who was 15 when he participated in the murder.
A third co-defendant, Adam Thomas, also received a life sentence at trial. But because Thomas was 18 at the time and tried as an adult, the ruling does not apply to him.
In November 2001, five teenagers from Redmond were arrested at the Canadian border for the killing of Tumalo resident Barbara Thomas, mother of Adam Thomas. Their actions would earn them the nickname “the Redmond Five.”
The kids had hatched a plan to go to Thomas’ house, steal her car and drive to Canada. The plan took several dark turns before Adams and Koch beat Barbara Thomas in the head with empty champagne bottles, and Koch ultimately killed her with a hunting rifle.
The state presented a theory at trial that all five members took part in the murder.
Koch pleaded guilty, and Brady gave him a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Link opted for a bench trial and, after finding him guilty, Brady assigned him life without parole.
A jury found Adam Thomas guilty and gave him the same sentence.
Following an appellate ruling in 2009, Link was sent back for resentencing for the first time. Brady ultimately gave him the same sentence, life without parole.
That sentence was ultimately vacated because Brady did not allow Link’s attorneys to submit new evidence.
The 2009 sentence was vacated by the Court of Appeals in 2016.
When Link was resentenced that time, the process took eight days as Brady listened to statements from family and friends of the victim and the accused. It’s possible the upcoming resentencing will proceed in a similar manner, Betz said.
No date for the resentencing is set.
Brady retired in 2017.
The other two members of the Redmond Five received 25-year prison sentences and will not be affected by the ruling. Lucretia Karle, 34, and Ashley Summers, 33, are inmates of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. The earliest they could be released is March 2026.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com