ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The death penalty of a Douglas County man who's been serving on death row since 1999 has been overturned by a Marion County judge, and he could be coming back to re-hear the penalty phase.
Jesse Fanus, who was 18 when he broke into the home of war hero Maj. Gen. Marion Carl on North Bank Road east of Roseburg, was convicted of murdering Carl and injuring his wife.
He appealed the conviction and the death penalty.
Marion County Judge Pamela Abernethy ruled that Fanus's attorney did not adequately represent him during the penalty phase when a jury decided he should get the death penalty.
If that ruling holds up, it would come back to the county for a new sentencing trial.
Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg says they don't believe it should, and he's asked for an appeal on the judge's ruling. "I have asked the Department of Justice, on behalf of Douglas County, to appeal the judge's decision. The defendant also has the right and option to appeal the judge's decision because he lost on the guilt question. If in fact either side appeals, it will go into the appellate system and that process in and of itself can take many, many months."
Wesenberg says under the ruling, the guilty verdict stands but it could eventually come back to re-try the penalty phase. "If neither side appeals, the next step would be a judgment from the post conviction relief court and the defendant would be returned to Douglas County. It would appear he would have to retain his own lawyers, because the judge found that he has somehow become independently wealthy."
New lawyers would be on the case and the penalty phase would be re-argued.
After the murder of Gen. Carl, a large manhunt in Douglas County turned up no sign of Fanus. He was captured in southern California a couple of days later and eventually extradited back to Roseburg.