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Woman pleads guilty in apparent mercy killing of mother

Gavel, with defocussed law books behind.
Three years of supervised probation for criminally negligent homicide

A White City woman who contributed to the death of her mother in an apparent mercy killing won’t be serving time in prison for the crime.

Cherie Lerae Chase, 51, appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide of Christine Lerae Powell, 70, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Before the incident, which occurred in March of 2021, Powell was receiving hospice care and Chase had been her mother’s caregiver for “some time,” the DA’s office stated in an announcement about the case.

“The victim had been coughing up blood and was actively in a great deal of pain when the defendant caused the suffocation and death of the victim,” the announcement explained.

A family member who was present at the time of Powell’s death reported what happened to local law enforcement in November of 2021.

When Chase was contacted by detectives, she was described as being “very cooperative with investigators.” She readily admitted her role in her mother’s death, the DA’s office also stressed.

Chase will serve three years of supervised probation. The maximum penalty for this offense, a Class B felony, is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, as stated in Oregon Revised Statutes.

It was a sentence agreement reached after both lengthy negotiations between opposing attorneys and consulting with all of the adult members of Powell’s family.

She waived her right for a grand jury indictment. It was also described in the announcement as a punishment that “would best serve community safety interests and the interest of justice,” the DA’s office added.

Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which allows assisted suicide for terminally ill patients through the use of lethal prescription drugs, went into effect in 1997. However, mercy killing and euthanasia are not allowed under this law, according to Oregon Revised Statutes.