VALE — Anthony Montwheeler, who is accused of killing two people in January of 2017 in Malheur County, will be facing a different set of charges after an amendment was made to his indictment on Tuesday morning.
Montwheeler is currently facing four counts of first degree murder, three counts of second degree murder, and one count each of first degree kidnapping and first degree assault.
A plea of not guilty to the charges was also entered on Tuesday.
A 12 person jury trial for the case is scheduled to begin on July 27. A motion hearing is scheduled for March 26.
Originally, Montwheeler was facing four charges of aggravated murder, three counts of murder, and one count each of first degree kidnapping and first degree assault. A not guilty plea was entered on those charges on Feb. 22, 2019.
The change in the indictment comes from Senate Bill 1013, which was passed in 2019 and limits the use of capital punishment in Oregon. The bill limits the use of the death penalty to cases like terrorist acts or the murder of children or law enforcement.
In Montwheeler’s case, his alleged acts no longer constitute as “aggravated murder” per Senate Bill 1013.
When the bill was being passed in August, it was also announced that the bill would affect pending cases in Oregon, including Montwheeler’s.
Montwheeler’s charges stem from an alleged kidnapping of his ex-wife, Anita Harmon, in Weiser and subsequent stabbing in Ontario. Harmon was found dead following a head-on crash which occurred as Montwheeler attempted to flee in his Dodge pickup. Killed in the crash was David Bates, of Vale, an occupant in the other vehicle.