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Defendant Sentenced to 43 Years for DUII Quadruple Homicide
07/24/2009
Dean F. Gushwa, District Attorney
Umatilla County District Attorney's Office
(541) 278-6270

JOHN COLE CARGREN, age 47, was sentenced Friday to over 43 years in prison for causing the deaths of Jesse Alan Cline, Michelle Marie Sawyer, Fred Angel Young Jr., and William Nephi Johnson in an alcohol-related vehicle crash on October 19, 2008.  The defendant was charged with four counts of manslaughter in the first degree and one count of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) after he drove his Dodge Dakota pickup into the back of a Chevrolet Beretta, killing the four occupants.  On July 2, 2009 the defendant pleaded guilty to the listed charges without a plea  bargain with the state.
 
Umatilla County Circuit Judge Christopher R. Brauer pronounced the sentence at the end of a four hour hearing that started this morning.  The defendant was sentenced to 130 months in each manslaughter count and one year of custody in the DUII count.  Each manslaughter case will run consecutively for a total of 520 months, or 43 years and 4 months.  The DUII sentence will run concurrently and will not add any extra prison time.  Under Ballot Measure 11, the defendant will not be eligible for any form of release for forty years.
 
At the hearing, the prosecution team filled in the details of what led up to the crash, which took place at milepost 219 on Interstate 84 westbound.  The defendant had just finished a job for Chevron, his employer, in northern Utah and was returning to his home in Carlton, Oregon.  He left the town of Woods Cross, Utah on the afternoon of October 18, 2008.  The state produced receipts that showed that the defendant had bought beer twice during the trip, in Caldwell, Idaho and La Grande, Oregon.  At the crash site, the victim's vehicle was stopped or nearly stopped on the right shoulder at a point where the road went to the left.  The defendant's truck slammed into the back of the victim's vehicle at highway speeds, causing catostrophic damage to the Chevrolet Beretta and instantly killing the four occupants.
 
The state also put on evidence of the defendant's criminal history.  The defendant had four prior DUII convictions dating back to 1984, as well as other criminal convictions.  The prosecution commented on the failure of the defendant to complete any sort of alcohol treatment until 1999 to satisfy Department of Motor Vehicles drivers license requirements.
 
Family members of the victims, indlucing Michelle Sawyer's six year old daughter, also addressed the court to inform the judge of the impact of the killings on their families and community.
 
The case was investigated by the Oregon State Police with assistance from the Umatilla Tribal Polcie Department, Umatilla County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory, Oregon Department of Justice, and Umatilla County District Attorney's Office.  The Criminal Justice Division of the Oregon Attorney General's Office assisted in prosecution.