Courtney deal hinged on recovery of Wilberger

Courtney deal hinged on recovery of Wilberger »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - A plea deal struck with convicted killer Joel Courtney hinged on the recovery of Brooke Wilberger’s remains, according to newly released court documents on Wednesday.

The agreement includes approval signatures of Oregon’s Gov. Ted Kulongoski and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, ensuring Courtney would serve his sentence in New Mexico.

Serving his sentence in New Mexico was a major factor in Courtney agreeing to the plea deal because it would allow him to be near his family, Courtney’s attorney Steven Gorham said Tuesday.

The plea agreement said if Courtney’s “information fails to result in the recovery of Brooke Wilberber’s remains” the “district attorney may reinstate all of the charges” including attempted murder, rape, and attempted kidnapping.

Courtney pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and concealing the commission of kidnapping.

A caveat to the deal: if Courtney gets in trouble in New Mexico’s prison system, Oregon has to take him back at its own expense.