Joda Cain gets 10-year prison term in great-grandmother's slaying
Defendant avoided a longer term because a jury convicted him of manslaughter instead of murder in Jacqueline Bell's death
A Washington County Circuit Court judge said he wanted Joda Cain to spend much longer than a decade in custody for his role in the outrageous and horrendous killing of the teenager's great-grandmother, but Oregons sentencing law wouldnt allow him to do it.
Judge Rick Knapp on Tuesday sentenced the 19-year-old to 10 years in prison for his conviction of manslaughter in the Oct. 5, 2013, death of Jacqueline Bell in her Cedar Mill home.
I was thinking 15 to 20 years, but I couldnt get there, Knapp said. I cant get out from under Measure 11. I looked at it, I wanted to, but I didnt have a choice.
A jury on Sept. 25 convicted Cain of two counts of manslaughter but acquitted him of aggravated and felony murder charges after Cain placed the primary blame on his cousin, Micus Ward, a co-defendant in Bells homicide. Ward and the victim were not related.
I was very disappointed with the jury for acquitting Cain on the more serious charges, Alex Bell, Jacqueline Bells son and Cains grandfather, said after the hearing. I feel like they dropped the ball.
A conviction on those murder counts would have allowed Knapp to impose a term of up to life in prison for Cain, who was 17 at the time of Bells death but was prosecuted as an adult.
Cains lead attorney, Conor Huseby, sought a lighter sentence of up to five years in prison, based on other sentencing guidelines.
Knapp, a former prosecutor, quickly dismissed the argument for leniency in favor of imposing the longest sentence available for Cains convictions for manslaughter, which were rolled into a single count for sentencing purposes.
Investigators said Cain and Ward beat Bell to death with a sledgehammer and fled in her car eastward to their hometown of Kansas City, Mo., before being stopped by police in eastern Oregon.
Ward, now 21, also faces charges of aggravated murder. He has yet to face trial due to competency issues, which soon will be re-evaluated in court.
Family members said Bell brought Cain from Kansas City to live with her, with the intention of helping him straighten out and build a better life.
Police said Cain used Bells credit card to buy airfare for Ward to travel from Kansas City to Oregon the day before the woman was killed.
Alex Bell was one of three people to speak to Knapp before the sentencing. He said Cain – whose name he refused to utter – didnt show remorse during or after his mothers death.
The jury decided the verdict and God will take it from there, he said to Knapp. I still find it hard to take.
Another speaker, James Pestillo, likened Bells murder to a mass casualty murder akin to the shooting deaths at Umpqua Community College last week.
I our case we had one death and hundreds injured, he said. Everyone who knew and loved her is a victim. A big part of me died that year.
Dolores Chenoweth, Bells longtime friend, said Cains sentence to prison takes him to the one place that his great-grandmother (Jacqueline Bell) fought so hard to prevent him from going to.
Cain will still be in his 20s when he is released to three years of post-prison supervision, and Chenoweth said she hoped he would yet do something decent with his life.
Cain also was sentenced to pay $7,525 in restitution and could be ordered to help pay a potentially much larger tab for his defense costs. The financial details were still being calculated, and Knapp set a final decision for Nov. 2.
Defense attorney Huseby said he advised the defendant not to make a statement during the brief sentencing hearing, and the handcuffed Cain sat quietly throughout.
The attorney had a different opinion than Bells loved ones about his clients state of mind.
Ive spent two years with Mr. Cain, Huseby said in court. He was incredibly remorseful about this case. He will regret for the rest of his life the actions he took that led to this murder.