A Saint Reagan pardon.  Think this one will be spotlighted in the news?

Convictions, pardons mark life of suspect held in slaying
Robert Walker Jr., pardoned by President Reagan and Gov. Straub, now is suspected of killing his wife
Sunday, February 25, 2001         By Ryan Frank of The Oregonian staff

HILLSBORO -- Investigators digging into the life of a Washington County man accused of killing his wife,
dismembering her body and burning it are unearthing a surprising history that includes a presidential pardon,
a governor's pardon and parallels to earlier criminal troubles.

Neighbors, acquaintances and detectives said they were shocked when they learned about the past of
Robert Wendell Walker Jr., 53. The intense man with no apparent political ties had been given a pardon
by President Reagan in 1981 for an attempted bank robbery and by Oregon Gov. Bob Straub in 1977
for two shoplifting convictions.

Detectives Larry McKinney and Ed Bowman, the Washington County Sheriff's Office's lead investigators,
and District Attorney Bob Hermann said Walker's was the first presidential pardon they've seen in more
than 75 combined years in law enforcement.

Straub wrote that he pardoned Walker because he had turned around his life and was pursuing a law degree.
Although Walker never received the law degree, for three decades he never had a serious brush with the law.

That was until Nov. 3, when he was arrested at the Cooper Mountain home he shared with his wife and their
two school-age sons. He was accused of shooting his wife, Terrie Lee Walker, 45, and burning her body in a
barrel in the back yard behind the 3,254-square-foot home at 19377 S.W. Suncrest Lane.

Eugene E. Jacobus, Washington County's medical examiner, called it the most gruesome crime he had seen.

Walker, who is in Washington County Jail awaiting trial in May, told detectives he shot his wife in self-defense
Oct. 17 when she charged at him with a knife. If convicted, he faces life in prison with a minimum sentence
of 25 years before parole.

Walker's former attorney, Gregory B. Scholl, a public defender, did not return phone calls seeking comment
from Walker. Scholl no longer represents Walker after a Washington County Circuit Court judge ruled last week
that Walker has enough money to pay for a private lawyer.

Pardon reports and current police records show similarities in Walker's life from the months before a string
of arrests 30 years ago and before his wife's death last fall: stress, job loss and estrangement from his family.

Asking for forgiveness
Nationally, pardons and reduced sentences are in the spotlight after President Clinton granted 176 of them
on his final day in office, including a controversial clemency for Marc Rich, a fugitive financier.

To be considered for a pardon, an official forgiveness of crimes, petitioners typically apply to the U.S. Department
of Justice. A recommendation concerning the pardon is made by a pardon attorney who reviews requests and
oversees a background investigation.

It is unknown why Reagan granted Walker's pardon. Roger C. Adams, a pardon attorney who works for
the U.S. attorney general, cited privacy issues when he refused to release Walker's application.

Walker surrendered to the FBI in 1970 for attempted bank robbery and received five years' probation
but no jail time. Details about the attempted robbery were not available. In his letter to Straub, Walker wrote that
at the time of the crimes he was a 21-year-old Portland State University student whose first wife, RoseAnn Marie
Reasoner, had just left home with the couple's infant son, Eric.

Walker also had been fired from his job loading tractor-trailer rigs, and a bank was threatening to foreclose
on a loan for his Portland home, Walker wrote.  Similarly, Walker last summer had been laid off from his
investigators job of 18 years with the Portland law firm. And his wife, after years of disputes, had decided
to move out just hours before she died, Walker told detectives.

No benefit from pardon

In 1974, Walker's probation was terminated just months before it was to expire and his conviction expunged under
the federal Youth Corrections Act, which he was eligible for because it was his first felony conviction, Minor said.

Under the act, which has been repealed, Walker's civil rights -- such as the right to vote and own a gun
-- were immediately restored.


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