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Teen killer, now 37, earns prison parole

Jonathan J. Cooper Associated Press

SALEM – A man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s mother when he was 16 will be freed from prison next month, the Oregon parole board ruled Wednesday.

Shane Sopher is one of five Oregon inmates who had faced uncertain parole dates because they were convicted of aggravated murder as teenagers during a six-year period when Oregon had no clear sentencing guidelines for such defendants. They’ve become known as the Oregon Five.

Sopher told the parole board that he had a troubled childhood and was unable to control his anger or emotions when he helped plan the 1992 murder of Donna Barrow, who was beaten with a baseball bat and died days later. He said he lacked willpower and was eager to please his girlfriend, Shavonda Barrow, who wanted her mother dead. He didn’t grasp what it would mean to kill her, he said.

Sopher said he plotted with Shavonda Barrow and their 20-year-old friend, Gregory Turner, to kill Donna Barrow and make the murder look like a botched robbery. Sopher did not participate in the beating, he said, and he helped stop Barrow’s bleeding and called 911.

“I’m no longer the same person I was at 16 years old,” said Sopher, now 37.

The board also on Wednesday set parole eligibility dates for three other members of the so-called Oregon Five. Sterling Cunio, now 35, will be eligible for parole in 2042 for the aggravated murders of Ian Dahl and Bridget Camber in 1994. Sentences for other convictions will keep Cunio locked up until at least 2066.

Cunio was 16 when he and an 18-year-old accomplice kidnapped Dahl, 21, and Camber, 18, as Dahl kissed Camber good night in front of his Salem apartment. The assailants drove the couple to Albany, where they were bound and shot.

Laycelle White and Lydell White, twin brothers who were 15 when they killed Richard and Gracy Remy, of Salem, won’t be eligible for release until 2048 and 2050, respectively. They are 34 now.

The board earlier ruled that the fifth member of the Oregon Five, Conrad Engweiler, now 38, will be eligible for parole in 2018.

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