Oregon’s Only Woman on Death Row Resentenced

Up until this month, Angela McAnulty, 51, of Eugene, has been Oregon’s only female inmate on death row, but as of the beginning of August, she will now serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.   

McAnulty pleaded guilty and was convicted in February 2011 of torturing and killing her 15-year-old daughter, Jeanette Maples, in 2009. Maples was found deceased in her Eugene home, weighing only 50 pounds, with broken front teeth and over 100 wounds all over her body. She had endured starvation, dehydration, and many other atrocities in the months and years leading up to her death. Her mother was the first and only woman sentenced to death in Oregon since Capital Punishment was reinstated by voters in 1984.   

In 2016, new attorneys who were appointed to review McAnulty’s case filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming McAnulty’s original lawyers did not adequately represent her. A judge ruled in July of 2019 that McAnulty’s guilty plea be vacated and her case returned to the Lane County Circuit Court, stating her original attorneys did not use reasonable skill and judgment by advising McAnulty to plead guilty without concessions from the court. The Oregon Department of Justice appealed this decision, and McAnulty’s new attorneys cross appealed.   

In related news, Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1013 into law in 2019 which changed the definition of Aggravated Murder – currently the only crime in Oregon eligible for the death penalty. Under this new legislation, which you can read here, McAnulty’s crime no longer qualifies as Aggravated Murder.   

According to a story published by Oregonlive.com, after negotiations, Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow said in a statement “the settlement agreement provides that the sentence of death is vacated, and Angela McAnulty is sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Both parties dismiss their appeals in the Oregon Court of Appeals and Angela McAnulty agrees ‘she will never attempt to challenge in any court her aggravated murder conviction or the stipulated true-life sentence.”   

The case bears striking similarities to a similar crime committed in the not so distant past, by the notorious Diane Downs. In 1984, Downs was sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years for the murder of her daughter and the attempted murder of her two other children. She has applied for and been denied parole twice, but is eligible for another parole hearing this year. The results of McAnulty’s appeal beg the question of whether Downs will be able to use the passing of this new legislation to finally attain her desired parole. Only time will tell.