ROSEBURG, Ore. (KMTR) - Mark Vanderhoof was found guilty of two counts of Murder by Abuse of a two-year-old boy.
Circuit Court Judge Ronald Poole found 52-year-old Mark Vanderhoof guilty of two counts of Murder by Abuse. The State of Oregon had dropped the first count of Murder during closing arguments of the trial last week.
Vanderhoof was found not guilty of his second count of Murder, which means the judge did not think Vanderhoof intended to kill two-year-old Dennis Young two years ago. However, the other two counts on which Vanderhoof was found guilty - Murder by Abuse - bring up Vanderhoof's past.
Attorneys stay that the Murder by Abuse charge is similar to Manslaughter, but because of Vanderhoof's prior convictions involving children under the age of fourteen his counts have been raised to Murder charges. Judge Poole said today before rendering his verdict that Vanderhoof has past convictions of abusing two different four-year-old girls and sexually abusing one of them.
Judge Poole said today that the medical evidence proved that Dennis Young suffered major head injuries after Vanderhoof hit him, which eventually caused his death. He found Vanderhoof guilty of recklessly causing Young's death with "the extreme indifference to the value of human life."
Due to Vanderhoof's previous convictions, what would usually be a Manslaughter charge is now Murder by Abuse.
Donald Scales, Vanderhoof's private attorney, explained after the verdict that an example of a Reckless assault could be shoving a person to the ground. A Reckless with Extreme Indifference charge could be, for example, shoving a person off of a ledge and down a flight of stairs. He said the difference between the two assault charges can be a gray area, but Reckless with Extreme Indifference means more of an intent to hurt somebody and is more likely to cause death.
The Deputy District Attorney of the case, Kathleen Johnson, said she was happy with the verdict.
"I trust the judge's judgment and I think justice is being served," Johnson said.
Murder by Abuse is a Measure 11 crime, which requires a minimum mandatory sentence. Oregon voters passed the measure in 1994, which requires certain convictions to have a particular sentence. Murder charges mean life in prison according to the measure with possibility for parole after 25 years.
Mark Vanderhoof's sentencing will be on April 22 at 11:00 AM at the Douglas County Courthouse.