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Murderer Jeffrey Wheeler won't get back money he likely stole from victim, judge rules

Convicted murderer Jeffrey Wayne Wheeler was not successful in collecting some personal property, including $250 prosecutors say he stole from his victim, in a court hearing this afternoon.

Wheeler, 38, appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court via video feed from Two Rivers Correctional Institute in Umatilla. Wheeler pleaded guilty last year to murdering Jessica Bethany in September 2011. He was sentenced to a minimum 25 years in prison.

Wheeler has since filed a court motion trying to collect some of his property that police confiscated as evidence in the murder case.

In his motion, Wheeler asked for his shoes, suitcase, some clothing and commemorative Alcoholics Anonymous coins be returned to him.

In addition, he asked for $250 he possessed at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutor David Orr objected to Wheeler's motion, noting that Wheeler has appealed his conviction and the clothing, which included blood spatter, could be used as evidence in the unlikely event of a retrial.

"In a murder trial this could be highly relevant evidence," Orr said.

Wheeler then argued that he would be willing to forgo the shoes as long as he got the coins, some jewelry he claimed belonged to his mother and the $250 in cash and change.

"That money was mine," Wheeler said. "I know I didn't steal any money from her." He claimed he won the money in a poker game, a story Orr and Circuit Judge Ray White didn't believe.

White ruled that Wheeler could receive his commemorative coins, his suitcase and some clothing and jewelry that he could positively identify as belonging to his mother, but not the money or the blood-spattered shoes.

Read more details about the hearing in tomorrow's Mail Tribune.

— Chris Conrad