Court documents in the case of Kevin Wayne Adams, accused of killing three members of his family, will be filed confidentially, as the case may move to juvenile court.
Senate Bill 1008, which went into effect Sept. 29, would transfer this case to juvenile court unless the State of Oregon files a waiver motion.
Juvenile cases are handled confidentially and Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Johnson asked all parties to file all of their motions confidentially.
Kevin Adams was charged with eight counts of aggravated murder in November 2017. He told police he shot the victims multiple times after his foster father, Robert Adams, left the house, around 6:30 p.m.
Robert Adams dialed 911 to report the deaths at his Lookingglass address just before 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2017. He had just returned home when his foster son, Kevin Adams, told him to call the police but not to go inside the home.
Robert Adams entered the home and found his wife, 55-year-old Donya Adams, his daughter, 26-year-old Amory Adams, and his foster daughter, 10-year-old Payshience “Tia” Adams, dead inside. He also noted his handgun was on the bed, which is not where he kept it.
Deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded and the Douglas County Major Crimes Team was activated as well. The team consists of detectives and investigators from the sheriff’s office, the Roseburg Police Department, the Oregon State Police and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.
Kevin Adams is represented by attorneys Katherine Berger, Lynne Morgan and Laurie Bender.
Berger filed for an extension to file motions until after the case moved into the juvenile court system. Instead, all motions in the case will be filed confidentially because of the new law, but the motions remain due by the original Nov. 1 deadline.
Johnson pointed out that Douglas County does not have a dedicated adult court and juvenile court and the whole case could move over.
“The only thing that changes is the charging document,” Johnson said. “This may very well be the only case that has to be transferred in Douglas County.”
She added that at the moment of transfer, the case would be treated as a juvenile court case.
Adams’ case would end up in juvenile court, unless the state holds a waiver hearing and the court waives juvenile court jurisdiction.
Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Steve Hoddle said he needed more time to read the senate bill before deciding whether to file a waiver hearing. He was given until Jan. 15, 2020, to file the appropriate paperwork.
A hearing on the matter was tentatively scheduled for four days starting Feb. 18, 2020.
Morgan filed a motion to amend the aggravated murder charges to murder in the first degree.
During its last legislative session, Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1013 into law which redefines the crime of aggravated murder.
Johnson inquired if Adams’ attorneys had reached out to the district attorney’s office about the motions filed.
“I’m not getting anything from the state other than they haven’t read the law,” Berger said.
Morgan said she had not been in contact with the district attorney’s office regarding her motion.
Johnson strongly encouraged all parties to communicate with each other and act in a timely manner.
It’s not the first time in this case Johnson has expressed her concern about the rate of speed in the case.
A month after Adams was arraigned, she wrote a letter to the attorneys in the case asking for an indictment.
“I am aware that it is not uncommon for the parties to agree to postpone taking the case to grand jury, but given the age of the defendant and the severity of this case, I do not feel it appropriate for the court to just do nothing for an unspecified period of time while waiting for an indictment to be filed,” she wrote.
The indictment was filed on Jan. 17, 2018. A jury trial has been set for May 5, 2020.