Commission denies parole in Ketchum murder case

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole has denied parole for a man convicted of killing two men and injuring another during a shooting rampage in the central Idaho resort town of Ketchum in 1990.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the commission last week also determined that 59-year-old Mitchel John Odiaga must serve another 15 years before again becoming eligible for parole.

In August 1991 Odiaga was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony.

In 1994 the Idaho Supreme Court ordered a new trail due to errors in the first trial. Odiaga then pleaded guilty to the same charges in exchange for a less severe sentence.

Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson, who was Blaine County prosecuting attorney at the time of the killings, attended the hearing.

"The commission was focused on his remorse, but they didn't hear any at all," he said. "One commissioner told him, 'I didn't hear any remorse_all I heard was me, me, me.' He continues to maintain his innocence. But he really didn't explain it. But there's no doubt that he killed two people and injured another man."

Odiaga first killed 46-year-old Ketchum resident Gerald "Shenandoah" Wright, shooting him in the chest with a .30-06 caliber hunting rifle at the intersection of East Avenue and Fourth Street at about 10 p.m. on June 22, 1990.

He killed 23-year-old Burley resident Bruce Tate Shafer a few minutes later with a single shot to the head on Fifth Street.

He next drove to Warm Spring Road, got out, and aimed his rifle at 40-year-old Ketchum resident Jerry Johnson, police said. Johnson was driving by and spotted the rifle and ducked, avoiding being shot but getting cut by flying glass when the bullet shattered the driver's side window.

Police began closing in. Odiaga used his vehicle to ram through a police roadblock on Warm Springs Road, and exchanged gunfire with police. Officers pursued him for 25 miles north on U.S. Highway 75 north of Ketchum where Odiaga rolled his vehicle and surrendered.

"He continues to maintain his innocence," Williamson said. "But he really didn't explain it. But there's no doubt that he killed two people and injured another man. He claims that he took 36 Sudafeds before the shooting. He remembered shooting (Shenandoah) Wright and then he said he blacked out."

Sudafed is a cold medication but can also be used to make methamphetamine.

Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle, a deputy prosecuting attorney for Blaine County at the time of the killings, also attended the hearing.

"I told myself 24 years ago that when Mitch came up for parole that I would be at that hearing," Haemmerle said. "I'd say they deliberated no more than five minutes. Suffice it to say that as one of the prosecutors in this case, I'm delighted.

"We're pleased that he won't get out for another 15 years, and I don't think he'll be getting out then either."


Information from: Idaho Mountain Express