Who’s the real killer? Sisters want to know after man freed

Who’s the real killer? Sisters want to know after man freed »Play Video
Kathy Day (left) and Vickie Houk, sisters of murdered Jason Kinser, speak with KATU's Thom Jensen (off camera).

PORTLAND, Ore. - Two sisters of a victim of a triple-murder are looking for answers after the man they thought was their brother’s killer was freed from prison.

Scott Cannon was arrested for the murders of Jason Kinser, Suzan Osborne, and Celesta Graves 12 years ago but was freed from jail in December 2009 after Polk County prosecutors said key evidence needed for a retrial was accidentally destroyed.

Cannon sat in the Oregon State Penitentiary for over 10 years and claimed he was innocent of the crimes.

It was after a KATU News investigation that found problems with a witness and forensic evidence that a Marion County judge overturned Cannon’s convictions and ordered the new trial that prosecutors eventually dropped.

But now Kinser’s sisters, Kathy Day and Vickie Houk want to know who killed their brother if Cannon didn’t.
 
Cannon said he also wants answers so the cloud of suspicion hanging over his head can be removed.

He said he worries people still think he is a cold-blooded killer.

“I can’t help but wonder what guy’s going to come up and say, ‘You’re a no good triple killer that’s walking around on a technicality,’” Cannon said.

 Day and Houk have viewed Cannon that way since his arrest for the 1998 murders.

“I mean it’s only brought more pain for us for Cannon to get out,” said Day.

“I have questions, so I don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent,” Houk said.

The sisters asked KATU News reporter Thom Jensen why, out of all the prisoners who claimed innocence, he looked at Cannon’s case.

He said it physically didn’t make sense when he asked the following questions:

  • How in a span of three minutes or less could Cannon kill three people inside and outside the trailer and then start a fire?
  • Why, in crime scene photos, there were no bloody paw prints around Kinser’s body? The property owner, Bimla Boyd, said she found Kinser still alive, face down in a puddle of blood in the kitchen with his dog.
  • And what about Boyd? She testified she never left the property, but a neighbor Jensen found said otherwise.

“She was visibly shaken when she saw us,” said Irene Morrow. “She didn’t expect to see anyone there.”

  • Why, just four years later, was Boyd still never a suspect even after the 2002 killing of her caretaker who she shot in the head just like Kinser and his friends were killed in 1998?


The pain for the family, however, still gnaws at them with ever greater intensity.

“So you have a possible innocent man in jail for ten years,” said Day. “You have family members who have gone through this once, and now we’re going through it again.”

Cannon said if Polk County would do a thorough investigation, it could help end the pain for the families and clear his name.

“I should be enjoying the same premise that anyone else in our country has and that’s innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

He said the real killer is still free, and Kinser’s sisters wonder if Cannon was right along.

“Well, that person’s out there too,” said Day. “I mean somebody just shot people in the head.”

“This is America,” said Houk. “We have a justice system, and they’re supposed to do the right thing.”

It may never be known what really happened since the evidence, prosecutors said, was accidentally destroyed.

Officials at the Polk County district attorney and sheriff’s offices declined to comment because they said it is an ongoing investigation.

Court Document: Philip S. Cannon v. Brian Belleque, Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary