Two plead guilty in 21-year-old murder case

Left to right, Vincent Thomas DeQuasie and Shan J. Scarlett.

By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski

Staff writer

PENDLETON — A guilty plea was entered in a 21-year-old murder case by two of five defendants — one of the other three being the sister of the murder victim.

Shan J. Scarlett and Vincent Thomas DeQuasie pleaded guilty to the Aug. 12, 1985 murder of Delbert Lee Westfall on Friday, Nov. 3 after about three weeks of negotiation in a settlement conference. The conference revealed three others were involved in the death of Westfall — Charlotte Weivoda of Great Falls, Mont. who was Westfall's sister; Gary Dwayne Counts of Surprise, Ariz., the nephew of the victim; and John Harold Gorman of Hubbard Township, Ohio, the half-brother of Counts. All three are now in custody and two of the three await extradition to Oregon.

When Scarlett and DeQuasie are sentenced, they will receive life sentences with a 10-year minimum sentence as provided by statute. The two brothers have agreed to cooperate with the state by testifying at any trials. They have provided affidavits and video-taped statements regarding the circumstances and planning of the murder, as well as the killing of Westfall. These sources of information, as well as the plea contracts, have been sealed by Polk County Circuit Court Judge Charles Luukinen, who presided over the settlement conference.

Although the information obtained from the settlement conference has been sealed, Luukinen says the information developed in the process was helpful in the arrest of Weivoda, Counts and Gorman. Without the information, it would be unlikely the role those three played in Westfall's death might not have come to light, said Luukinen.

This is the second time a settlement conference has been held in Umatilla County this year.

The guilty plea of Juan Carlos Solis was reached in March after a settlement conference was held. Solis pled guilty to the murder of Paco Chavez Tena, the victim of a home invasion on July 9, 2004. Solis received a 25-year minimum sentence for his part in the crime.

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