The Dalles Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley has been successful in his bid to increase the potential prison sentence for a man accused of fatally stabbing his roommate.
The Wasco County Grand Jury, after reviewing evidence in the death of Josh Davitt, 23, has indicted Scott Olenick, 26, of first-degree manslaughter. During the time Davitt was hospitalized at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Olenick faced prosecution for first-degree assault.
After Davitt’s death on May 7, Nisley arranged for the jury to convene to reconsider the original charge, which carried a potential prison sentence of 90 months.
Although second-degree manslaughter is the charge usually imposed when a killing does not involve advance planning or malice, Olenick would have spent only 75 months behind bars. Under Measure 11 mandatory sentencing guidelines, he faces 120 months of incarceration if convicted of first-degree manslaughter.
Nisley declined to comment on the grand jury’s decision but spoke in general terms about the process used to come up with an indictment under measure 11 sentencing
“We present the Grand Jury with information and explain the law and differences between different charges and the jurors decide which is appropriate,” he said.
According to Oregon law, first-degree manslaughter is levied in cases where a person has recklessly caused the death of another under circumstances that demonstrate an extreme indifference to human life.
Davitt’s funeral was May 16 and Eagles Lodge 2126, 2006 Seventh Street, is holding a fundraiser Saturday to help the family cover costs for the service. Community members are invited to enjoy a spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 25, and a $1 donation is suggested at the door. The evening will include music by DJ Fergie from 5 to 7 p.m. and then a performance by Sunshine Express. There will also be a 50/50 drawing, raffle and bake sale, with all proceeds used to aid the cause.
According to police reports, Davitt was intoxicated when he got into a verbal dispute with Olenick, who had not been drinking. The argument escalated into violence about 1 a.m. April 29 at their apartment near the intersection of 10th Street and Dry Hollow Road.
Olenick allegedly stabbed his roommate in the chest and Davitt then reportedly got on a bicycle in an attempt to seek medical attention.
He collapsed near the Dry Hollow intersection and a passing motorist reported a “man down” to the emergency dispatch center. Law enforcement officials and medics from Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue converged on the scene.
Davitt was reportedly manually resuscitated for 30 minutes as medical personnel on the scene and at Mid-Columbia Medical Center worked to save his life. Once he had been stabilized enough to travel, Davitt was transported by LifeFlight to OHSU, but was unable to recover from the traumatic injury that caused a loss of oxygen to his brain.
Nisley said Olenick was cooperative with police during the investigation and did not resist arrest. The knife believed to have been used in the crime was seized at the apartment and taken into evidence.