Justice Is Everyone's Business

Seeking to Restore Integrity and Public Trust in Our Justice System

Justice will not be served until those who are
unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
—Benjamin Franklin

Recent News: Ketchem's Trial October 19-22, 2020

Criminal Justice Is Just Criminal

Since early 2019, Everyone’s Business has been publishing news of this bogus case against Kenneth Ketchem and Oregon's disregard for due process of law.  We have made the contents of this webpage widely known, written many letters public officials, and engaged in other methods of civil informationing.  Before trial, Judge Thomas Hart told Ketchem he was guilty and chuckled contemptuously about the poor food Ketchem would be having in jail over the holidays.  And he threatened Everyone’s Business with the criminal charge of "interfering with the prosecution."

The District Attorney’s Office pressured Mr. Ketchem to accept a plea bargain and agree that he set fires at 1050 Summer Street N.E. Thus a police SWAT bungle was to be blamed on a scapegoat who would be denied his right to trial guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Constitution of Oregon.

The District Attorney’s prosecutorial show piece was a fire investigation report released under the name of Deputy Fire Marshall Sarah Poet.  Our analysis of the now-discredited report appears in Chapter 6 of “The Siege on Summer Street” https://everyones-business.org/SummerStreet/fire-marshal.html .

In that analysis, we note that Salem police asked the Salem Fire Marshall to conduct a “criminal” investigation of the fires.  That is, from the outset, the fires were defined as a result of human criminal intent, rather than the results of the four-hour SWAT barrage.

But two Salem policemen, one of whom was Det. Curt Abel, first removed SWAT ordinance from the fire scene before the assigned Deputy Fire Marshal (Sarah Poet) was called in.  Det. Abel then showed Ms. Poet around, interpreting the fire scene for her and assuring her that the SWAT barrage could not possibly have caused the fire.  She wrote her report accordingly.

On October 2, 2020 in a pre-trial hearing, it seemed the prevailing wind had changed.  Judge Hart spoke respectfully to the accused.  Acknowledging the Deputy Fire Marshal's failure to follow the National Fire Prevention Association 921 (Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations), and with the agreement of Deputy District Attorney Keir Beottcher, Judge Hart ruled the Fire Marshal’s investigation of the fire at 1050 Summer Street NE was unscientific.

None Dare See Conflict of Interest

Certainly the Salem police had a vested interest in retaining a fire investigation expert who held them blameless.  The District Attorney’s Office found such a person: Det. Curt Abel, one of the policemen who removed SWAT ordinance from the fire scene and led Deputy Fire Marshal Poet through the fire scene.

And Det. Abel, veteran police officer of the Salem police, certainly had a vested interest in accusing Ketchem.  Det. Abel was also not asked about his participation in cleaning up the spent grenades before the fire inspection.  He cast no blame on his SWAT team mates for the ruination of the home.

When Assistant District Attorney Boettcher called Det. Abel to the stand as the Prosecution's fire expert, he indicted the honor and integrity of the District Attorney's office.  And what of Judge Hart, who accepted without question an expert witness who had such a glaring conflict of interest?

Ketchem’s defense attorney hired Douglas Carpenter, an eminently qualified member of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) to review Det. Abel’s work.  Carpenter found serious fault with it.  Det. Abel had failed to examine crucial evidence and had drawn unfounded conclusions.  The scientific method would force the conclusion that the cause of the fires was “undetermined,” Carpenter said.

The all-white and apparently middle-class Salem residents who sat on the jury at Kenneth Ketchem’s trial apparently trust the police without question — and did not understand the concept of “reasonable doubt.”  On October 22, after a short deliberation, the jury found Kenneth Ketchem guilty of arson.

Aside from a prison term, Kenneth Ketchem is to be held responsible for over $434, 866 in restitution.  Thus the District Attorney’s Office arguably saved the City of Salem $434, 866 — a bill which might have been the City’s had Ketchem been exonerated.

That’s criminal justice in Marion County — it is just criminal.