Appeals Court Orders Leads to Release of Murderer



May 28, 2002

Convicted murderer Keith Alan Christenson, who was sentenced to life in prison for a 1987 murder, is being released into the community on Wednesday, May 29, 2002, as a result of an order by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Steve Doell, President of Crime Victims United, denounced the action as "outrageous and an insult to victims everywhere." Doell explained that the Oregon Board of Parole and Post Prison Supervision had three times denied Christenson's efforts to be released - in 1996, 1998, and 2000.

But unknown to the family of his victim, Robert Lindstrom, who was stabbed to death in an Astoria bar on January 7, 1987, Christenson filed a legal challenge to the 1996 decision of the Parole Board who found that the killer was still dangerous according to a psychologist. Diana Lindstrom, the victim's daughter, has waged an unceasing campaign which included gathering thousands of signatures from friends and neighbors of her father, in an effort to keep Christenson in prison. Lindstrom was told in 1996, 1998, and 2000 that the Parole Board was denying the killer's efforts for immediate release.

Both Lindstrom and the Clatsop County District Attorney's Office, which appeared with Lindstrom at several of the parole hearings urging the sentence to stand, were unaware that Christenson had received a court-appointed lawyer who had convinced a panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals to void the Parole Board's decision. In an opinion handed down in August of 2001 the appellate court apparently decided that it knew better than the Parole Board or its psychologist whether Christenson was dangerous.

"It is a sad day in this state when citizens can't count on the decisions of the Parole Board appointed by the governor," Doell explained. "This means that no decision that keeps killers and rapists behind bars can be counted on." Doell reiterated that voter initiatives like Measure 11 are all the more important to prevent judges or others from releasing killers early.

"Unlike his killer, my father got no second chance," Diana Lindstrom said. "The man who murdered him in cold blood is walking away after serving less than 16 years and my family gets a true life sentence left to worry when and where Keith Christenson is going to strike next."

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