Paroled killer’s lawsuit names nearly 40 defendants, seeks unspecified damages
Conrad Engweiler, 40, served 24 years for the 1990 rape and murder of then-classmate Erin Reynolds, 16. He was released to the supervision of Deschutes County Adult Parole & Probation last October.
In the nearly 60-page filing, Engweiler claims that mismanagement, misinformation and evasion on the part of the defendants led to a “civil conspiracy” to delay his release from prison.
If the defendants had “properly and timely performed their legal duties,” Engweiler says in the lawsuit, his release date could have been scheduled by the parole board for as early as July 17, 2012.
Engweiler’s circuitous journey through the justice system began when he was 15, and included an initial sentence of 30 years.
In 1999, the Oregon Board of Parole decided that Engweiler could be required to serve up to 40 years before being eligible for parole, but that decision was struck down in 2011 by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the parole board had overstepped its authority and should set Engweiler’s release date immediately.
He was granted parole on Sept. 2, and has been assigned to parole officer Steve Brower in Deschutes County.
In a civil court filing with the District Court of Eugene on Dec. 1, 2014, Engweiler names 19 defendants — including ODOC Director Colette Peters; state assistant attorneys general Jeffery Van Valkenburg, Herbert Lovejoy and Jeremy Rice; OSCI Superintendent Rob Persson; Brenda Carney, executive director of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision — and an additional 20 “John and Jane Does.”
He claims the the alleged “conspiracy” continued even into 2014, when Engweiler says OSCI Sgt. Derek Lowe provided false information to the parole board at his May 13 exit interview. At that hearing, Engweiler told the parole board he had felt it “inappropriate” to maintain romantic relationships while in prison. In response, Lowe issued a memo to the board, alleging he had witnessed Engweiler engaging in “very long, passionate kisses as well as embraces” with a woman who visited him weekly in prison.
In his suit, Engweiler accuses Lowe of having a personal bias against him and lying to keep him in prison, and claims Lowe’s allegations played a part in the board’s decision to extend the exit interview to August 2014. Engweiler argued the behavior Lowe described would have been classified as “excessive contact,” and that he would have been penalized had such an interaction occurred. This behavior would have been considered “serious misconduct,” which would have allowed the parole board to further defer his release date, Engweiler added.
Engweiler noted that after he filed a grievance in response to Lowe’s memo, three other corrections officers gave sworn statements that contradicted Lowe’s claims.
“A civil conspiracy and meeting of the minds existed, and continues to exist, between two or more of the defendants in this action to deprive plaintiff of his constitutional rights in the manner alleged,” Engweiler says in his lawsuit. The result, he claims, was “the irreparable loss” of his “liberty interests.”
Engweiler, who worked as an inmate legal assistant for about 14 years while in prison, will represent himself. He requested a jury trial, and is asking for compensatory and punitive damages in an unspecified amount.