Man freed from Oregon death row in 2010 now faces 2 decades in prison for new crimes


REDMOND — A former Oregon death row inmate who was given a second chance at freedom could now face nearly 20 years in prison following a conviction for stabbing three people outside a Redmond bar.

Gregory Paul Wilson, 55, was convicted on Wednesday of three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

He could be sentenced to serve up to 19 years in prison when he appears before a judge next month.

In 1993, Wilson was convicted of aggravated murder in the “torture murder” of Michelle “Misty” Largo, an 18-year-old Portland woman, and sentenced to death. Wilson eventually won a new trial after appealing his conviction to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At his second trial, he was convicted again, and again he successfully appealed his case. Days before he stood trial for the third time in 2010, Wilson accepted a plea deal for manslaughter. He was released in 2013 after 21 years in detention.

Wilson, one of two men sentenced to death for Largo’s murder, was the last of the four living defendants in Largo’s death to have his case resolved. A fifth was murdered.

Wilson’s recent case in Deschutes County is also complex.

On July 23, 2021, the Castle Rock, Wash., resident was in central Oregon as a female companion to attend a medical conference in Redmond.

Wilson’s three victims consist of a Redmond resident, Chris Gannon, and two of his friends, Clint Holdbrook and Kyle Bates, who came from out of the area. Throughout Wilson’s trial this month, prosecutors referred to two groups of people involved in the case: Wilson and his associates, whom they called “conference attendees,” and Gannon, Holdbrook and Bates, who were referred to as “locals”.

Wilson is black and the three residents are white. All four are said to be intoxicated.

The booze-soaked fact pattern began at a Redmond bar, the Tumble Inn Tavern, with an argument over college football. Gannon, a Washington Huskies fan, noticed a conference attendee enter the bar wearing a shirt bearing the logo of rival Washington State University.

After a verbal argument in the bar, the conference attendees opted to return to their hotel several blocks away and go to bed. Wilson was not with this group, but he met them outside the hotel and they told him about the fight at the bar.

Later, Wilson and another man chose to have drinks at the Tumble Inn.

Outside the bar, Gannon was walking towards a vehicle when Wilson shouted, “Hey, Butterbean.”

Eric “Butterbean” Esch is a former heavyweight boxer whose distinct look featured a bald head and an American flag boxing singlet. On the evening in question, Gannon, who is bald, was wearing cowboy boots and American flag overalls, with no shirt.

Prosecutor Alison Filo acknowledged in her closing statement that the comparison was “appropriate.”

According to Wilson’s defense, after hearing the “Butterbean” comment, Gannon became enraged and tackled Wilson to the ground, although the prosecution disagreed with this description. Wilson says he was called a racial epithet by two of the locals. Regardless, the parties agree that there was a physical altercation between Wilson and Gannon.

Although police have reviewed hundreds of hours of security footage from various companies, none have captured the actual stabbings. An outside security camera captured Wilson pulling out a pocket knife and following the local trio around a corner. Moments later, a woman can be seen running and screaming.

Wilson maintained that he acted in self-defense and pleaded not guilty. His trial before Judge Randy Miller lasted two weeks in temporary court at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.

Defense attorney Katherine Griffith accused the police of acting through confirmation, telling the jury that from the moment officers arrived and placed Wilson in handcuffs, they worked to support the conclusion that he was guilty, rather than considering the case dispassionately.

In his closing statement, Griffith showed a snippet of police body camera footage in which a member of the trio can clearly be heard calling a handcuffed Wilson the N-word.

“He pulled out a knife to save his life,” she told jurors. “The state asks you to ignore the acts of extreme violence by Gannon, Holdbrook and Bates.”

Prosecutor Filo called Wilson’s account a “revisionist story” that is not supported by video evidence.

“What you need to determine guilt or innocence, really, stays on those videos,” she said.

Filo told jurors that everyone has biases. “Just because I’m biased doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

All three victims testified, as did Wilson. Because Wilson chose to testify in his defense, jurors were allowed to hear about Wilson’s past incarceration for manslaughter and kidnapping. The jurors also received instructions on implicit bias.

Wilson is expected to be sentenced on June 13.

–Garrett Andrews; [email protected]


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