07 August 2017 :
The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the April 5, 2016 ruling of the Oregon Court of Appeals overturning the aggravated murder conviction of death row inmate Martin Allen Johnson, who was found guilty in 1998 of killing a 15-year-old girl and throwing her body over the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The high court agreed with the appeals court that Johnson didn't have adequate representation at his 2001 Washington County trial in the death of Heather Fraser. In turn, the court of appeal had upheld the ruling of Judge Don Dickey who on January 31, 2013 (see) had vacated the death sentence on the same grounds. Johnson's original defense team should have sought more information about Johnson's claims that she died of an accidental morphine overdose, the Supreme Court said. Had they sought a toxicology expert's opinion, the defense could have developed a theory that Fraser's death was unintentional or not the type of crime that carried the death penalty, according to the court. A Washington County jury sentenced Johnson, now 60, to death. Prosecutors said Johnson drugged Fraser with morphine, raped her and strangled her to death in Aloha and then threw her body off the bridge near Astoria. Her body was found the next day floating in the Columbia River near Warrenton. A high level of morphine was found in Fraser's body as well as traces of Johnson's DNA.Fraser had left her Tigard-area home at 2:30 a.m., telling friends she was going to the home of an older man they knew as "Marty" to play games on his computer. Johnson lived with his mother in Aloha at the time. One of Fraser's friends told investigators that Marty was always "hitting on" Fraser and had given her drugs and alcohol in the past.