BAKER CITY — The attorney for Shawn Quentin Greenwood, the suspect in a 2020 murder in Baker City, argued in court Tuesday, Aug. 24, that Judge Matt Shirtcliff should dismiss charges against Greenwood due to “egregious” conduct by Baker City Police Det. Shannon Regan, the lead investigator in the case who allegedly listened to five privileged phone calls between Greenwood and his attorney last year.
Greenwood’s attorney, Jim Schaeffer of La Grande, argued during a three-hour hearing before Shirtcliff in the Baker County Courthouse that Regan’s conduct is an “intrusion and violation of my client’s constitutional rights.”
“Dismissal is the right answer,” said Schaeffer, who filed a motion on June 25, 2021, to either dismiss charges against Greenwood, or prohibit District Attorney Greg M. Baxter from introducing at trial all evidence that Regan was involved with.
Baxter, meanwhile, told Shirtcliff that he’s willing to not use at trial any evidence that was collected in the case after Sept. 14, 2020. That’s the day recordings of the five phone calls, which Greenwood made from the Baker County Jail on several days, were accessed on Regan’s computer at the Baker City Police Department, according to a forensic investigation.
Suppressing evidence collected after that date, Baxter argued in court Tuesday, would be sufficient “to secure (Greenwood’s) constitutional rights.”
“Dismissal is a last resort type of remedy,” Baxter said.
He also has argued, both in court and in motions, that were the judge to invalidate all evidence that Regan had handled, from the beginning of the case, that would be tantamount to dismissing the charges since Regan was involved in every aspect of the investigation and Baxter could hardly expect to convict Greenwood without any of that evidence.
'We’re cooperating with the investigation'
Baker City Police Chief Ty Duby said in an Aug. 19 interview that he put Regan on paid administrative leave after receiving a report from the forensic investigation conducted by Special Agent Mark Williamson of the Oregon Department of Justice earlier in August. Williamson examined three police department computers, including Regan’s, for evidence that they were used to access and play the recorded phone calls.
“We’re cooperating with the investigation,” Duby said.
He declined to comment further.
Baxter said during the hearing that Regan is being investigated for possible criminal charges of official misconduct.
The Herald left a message with Regan’s attorney, Dan Thenell of Portland, but had not received a response by press time Wednesday afternoon.
At the end of the hearing, Shirtcliff said he would take the matter “under advisement” and issue a written opinion “so my decision is as clear as possible, as soon as I can.”
The judge noted that while his ruling on Schaeffer’s dismissal motion is pending, the first-degree murder case against Greenwood, 50, is slated to go to trial in early September.
Shirtcliff has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 30 at 8:30 a.m. at the Courthouse to consider other motions not related to Schaeffer’s motion to dismiss the charges or suppress evidence.
The phone calls
Although police can legally access and listen to calls that jail inmates make to friends or family, conversations with attorneys are protected by attorney-client privilege.
The five calls that prompted Schaeffer’s motion to dismiss the charges against Greenwood were made to a cellphone number that, according to Schaeffer’s motion, was not on the list of numbers that belonged to attorneys and thus were privileged.
A different cellphone for Schaeffer, and his office number, were on that list, according to his motion.
According to testimony during the hearing and written motions filed by both Schaeffer and Baxter, the issue of police possibly listening to privileged phone calls between Greenwood and Schaeffer arose in November 2020.
That was about 10 months after Greenwood was arrested and accused of fatally shooting his former girlfriend, Angela Michelle Parrish, 30, of Vale, on Jan. 13, 2020. Police found Parrish’s body in a building just north of H Street in Baker City, on property that previously was owned by the New Tribes Mission, south of the Powder River Correctional Facility.
In an Aug. 17, 2021, motion, Baxter wrote that Schaeffer and his legal assistant contacted the Baker County Jail staff in November 2020 because Greenwood was concerned about police listening to his privileged phone calls.
Sheriff Travis Ash, the first of eight witnesses whom Baxter called during the hearing, testified that after he learned about the allegation, he had Cpl. Dennis Lefever of the Baker County Sheriff’s Office make two copies of the five phone calls in question.
Ash said he gave one computer disc with the recorded calls to Schaeffer’s investigator, and that he intended to give the second disc to Baxter.
Ash said he never did give the second disc to Baxter, and that the disc was on his desk for the next several months, until after Schaeffer filed his motion to dismiss charges on June 25 of this year.
In response to Baxter’s questions, Ash said he has never listened to the phone calls, nor has he ever talked with Regan about the content of the calls.
In cross-examination, Schaeffer asked Ash if his office is always locked when he’s not there.
Ash answered that it’s not always locked. He said he has no reason to believe that the disc containing recordings of the five phone calls between Greenwood and Schaeffer was ever moved from his desk, but that he couldn’t say for certain that it had not.
Following Ash’s testimony, Baxter called as witnesses Dennis Lefever and two other Sheriff’s Office officials, Cpl. Maya Lefever and Lt. Ben Wray.
All three told Baxter that they had neither listened to the phone calls, nor spoken with Regan about them.
Baker City Police officers testify
Baxter then called as witnesses three current or former officials from the Baker City Police Department — Duby, former Chief Ray Duman, who retired June 30, 2021, and Det. Chris Sells, who worked with Regan to investigate Parrish’s murder.
All three told Baxter that they had not listened to the phone calls between Greenwood and Schaeffer. They also said they had not talked with Regan about those calls.
Sells did tell Baxter that he recalled a conversation with Regan — he didn’t remember when it happened — in which she mentioned hearing part of a phone call involving an attorney, and that when she realized an attorney was involved she went on to a different call.
Sells testified that he didn’t remember whether Regan had mentioned the attorney’s name, or the suspect or the case.
“I assumed it was accidental,” he said.
Sells, in response to Schaeffer’s questions, said he has listened to phone conversations that Greenwood had from jail with people other than Schaeffer.
Sells, who said he worked closely with Regan in investigating Parrish’s murder, told Schaeffer that “I believe Detective Regan made a mistake, and I don’t think she would jeopardize the evidence in this case.”
Forensic investigation in Baker City Police computers
Baxter’s eighth and final witness was Williamson, the forensic examiner from the Oregon Department of Justice.
Duman, the retired Baker City Police chief, testified earlier that after learning about the allegations that a city officer had listened to Greenwood’s privileged phone calls, he had copies made of the hard drives from the computers of the three officers who had access to phone calls from the jail — Regan, Sells and Duby.
Williamson told Baxter that he examined the three hard drives and that only the one that Regan used contained digital “artifacts” showing that her computer was used to access and to play the five recorded phone calls.
Williamson testified that he found evidence that in one case Regan’s computer “auto-filled” the cellphone number for Schaeffer that Greenwood used for each of the five calls.
Williamson said that means someone had previously typed in the full cellphone number on that computer, and that the auto-fill function operated in a subsequent search for that number.
Following testimony from witnesses, Shirtcliff asked both attorney — first Schaeffer since the hearing was prompted by his motion — to make arguments.
Schaeffer contended that because Regan was the lead investigator, and thus involved with all aspects of assembling the case against Greenwood, it’s not possible to separate her alleged misconduct from the case itself.
“This is purposeful misconduct by the lead detective,” he said. “She’s a member of the prosecution team.”
He conceded that dismissing criminal charges is a “last resort remedy,” and that the legal standard for justifying a dismissal is, and should be, a high one.
But Schaeffer argued that based on Regan’s “outrageous conduct,” and her integral role in the prosecution, that standard has been met.
Schaeffer contends that Baxter’s statement that he has neither listened to the phone calls nor is aware of their content, and the testimony from the county and city officers that they too haven’t listened to the calls, doesn’t override the significance of Regan’s involvement.
Schaeffer also argued that Baxter can’t prove conclusively that no one besides Regan listened to the calls or knows what Greenwood and Schaeffer talked about.
Schaeffer contends that the prosecution can’t prove that nobody took the disc with the recorded calls from Ash’s desk over the several months the sheriff said it was there.
“The appropriate remedy — how can it not be dismissal of charges, your honor,” Schaeffer said to Shirtcliff.
However, should the judge decide not to dismiss charges, Schaeffer argued that Shirtcliff should instead suppress all evidence that Regan was involved in collecting, both before and after Sept. 14, 2020, the day the phone calls were accessed from and played on her computer.
In his argument, Baxter conceded, as he did in his Aug. 17 motion, that the evidence shows not only that Regan alone listened to the phone calls, but that based on the length of time her computer played the calls compared with the actual duration of those calls, that she acted intentionally rather than inadvertently.
But Baxter argued that there is no evidence that anyone besides Regan listened to the calls or knows their content.
He cited the testimony from the county and city officers, all of whom said that Regan never mentioned the phone calls to them.
In his Aug. 17 motion, Baxter addressed the same issue, writing: “This is important, because it shows that Detective Regan, perhaps fearful of what consequences she could face, never discussed anything related to the five phone calls with any other member of the prosecution team.”
“There is not a conspiracy going on,” Baxter wrote in the motion. “The information obtained out of those phone calls has not been conveyed to anyone else on the prosecution team.”
Once the allegations arose that Regan had illegally listened to the privileged conversations, Baxter said “we put up a wall between Shannon Regan and everybody else involved in this case.”
Baxter wrote in the motion that he would not use Regan as a witness should Greenwood go to trial.
Shirtcliff asked Baxter during Tuesday’s hearing how he would be able to introduce evidence at trial if Regan wasn’t a witness.
Baxter said that during the first few months of the investigation, in the winter and spring of 2020, Sells gathered evidence, including listening to non-privileged phone conversations between Greenwood and others.
Baxter said Sells, not Regan, testified about those conversations in court, and that he should be allowed to testify as well in trial.