Civilization Values Watch: The Kyle Hedquist Clemency Decision

Oregon’s Woke Governor Kate Brown (above), who humiliated her state during the George Floyd Freakout and who is one of the many state governors whose extremism and incompetence shows just how nuts George Will’s inspiration that U.S. Senators should be barred from the Presidency is, just released convicted murderer Kyle Hedquist from prison. He was serving a life sentence with no chance of parole, but since he was a non-violent offender, and Democrats don’t think non-violent offenders belong in…no, wait, that can’t be right. I guess the reason Brown released Hedquist is that she has minimal reverence for human life—loving abortion will do that to you—and doesn’t like locking up criminals no matter what the crime. The latter delusion has been on display among Democratic attorneys general and district attorneys throughout the nation. (But don’t worry, it’s the Wuhan virus that’s the culprit for skyrocketing violent crime.)

(Sorry, I woke up bitter and sarcastic today. I need a new mattress.)

Hedquist was 17 and a serial burglar when he led 19-year-old Nikki Thrasher down a remote logging road and shot her in the back of the head execution-style because he feared she might tell police about burglaries he had committed. It has never been determined that she actually know about the burglaries, but I’m sure we can all agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hedquist was convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to be forever behind bars, but the judge did not count on The Great Stupid descending over Oregon like the plagues of Egypt.

Brown defended her decision by comparing it to President Biden’s granting pardons or clemency to 78 people, although all of those were for nonviolent offenders. (Told ya!) Then she gave the pat answer about second chances and teenagers, saying in part,

“Teenagers, even those who have committed terrible crimes, have a unique capacity for growth and change. We are a state and a nation of second chances…Clemency is an action I reserve for individuals who have demonstrated that they have made incredible changes in their lives to rehabilitate themselves, take accountability for their crimes, and dedicate themselves to making their communities a better place.


  • I seem to recall that Brown’s party insisted that a teenage incident that no one could confirm actually happened should bar a distinguished judge with an impeccable record of community service from the U,S. Supreme Court 30 years later.
  • One doesn’t demonstrate “incredible changes” in one’s life in prison. It’s a rather limited set of opportunities.
  • In 2012, the US Supreme Court held that only rare, irredeemable federal juvenile cases should result in life in prison. A 17-year-old’s execution-style murder of a helpless young woman to keep her quiet about his crimes on the off-chance that she knew about them qualifies as rare and irredeemable.
  • Kyle’s own community, Douglas County, where he lived and pursued his robust burglary career before shooting Nikki Thrasher, doesn’t want him there. How odd, since he is dedicated to making it a better place, according to the governor. To be fair, his staying out of the community will make it a better place, so maybe that counts.

Brown has managed to unify left and right with her compassion: almost everyone thinks the commutation is bats. To ensure maximum fury, Holly Thrasher, Nikki’s mother, wasn’t informed of her daughter’s murderer’s release until a TV station called her for comment.

Well, she probably voted for Trump, so she deserved it.

Douglas County District Attorney Richard Wesenberg sent a letter to Brown’s office objecting to Hedquist’s release…

There are thousands of pages of discovery on this case, and yet large swaths of Hedquist’s petition [for the commutation] are completely unsupported by any of them. In fact, many statements fly in the face of the evidence. This office has concerns that clemency for Mr. Hedquist will erode faith in the justice system. Specifically, clemency for Hedquist will demonstrate that a life sentence without the possibility of parole does not really mean a true-life sentence.


Why yes, I think that would be a reasonable conclusion.

Marion County DA Paige Clarkson and Sheriff Joe Kast, whose county includes Salem, Oregon, where Hedquist is now living, issued a public safety notice expressing “significant safety concerns surrounding the sudden and ill-planned governor’s commutation.” “Hedquist tricked the victim into driving him to a rural Douglas County location where he shot the victim execution-style in the back of the head and dumped her body along the road,” it says. “Hedquist admitted killing her to eliminate a witness in hope of preventing his own capture.”

Yes, but he’s been a model prisoner! While locked up in the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Hedquist, now 45,  spent over 20 years volunteering for hospice care services! (It’s still better than the laundry…) He also wrote an essay about caring for dying inmates that was awarded “honorable mention in memoir” in PEN America’s 2019 Prison Writing Contest! (“So I sat, I listened, their teary-eyed regurgitation of their crimes burned my ears, they left a bitter taste in my mouth as I consumed the confessions…” I’d lock him up for life just for writing that dreck.)

Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson reacted to the early release by saying,

I think what it’s telling them is they don’t matter, that these offenders are being prioritized over them and over what happens to them, their families and what is appropriate for public safety. We need victims to trust us. We need them to participate. We need them to be willing to come to court and to hang in there with us.

“As with many others, the facts of this case are outrageous and brutal,” Oregon Senate GOP Leader Tim Knopp said. “The governor continues to let violent criminals out of prison, and Democrats in the majority remain silent.”

Not all Democrats, though. Oregon’s reliably progressive Senator Ron Wyden  condemned Brown’s decision as “wrong on every level, starting with its callousness toward the crime victim’s family and extending to all Oregonians counting on public officials to make decisions with public safety in mind.”

It doesn’t matter. Oregon’s voters told us that they don’t believe in the rule of law when it voted all-blue after Brown and various mayors let Black Lives Matter run amuck in their state the previous summer. Like most of the rest of the “left coast,” Oregon Democrats could legalize cannibalism and it wouldn’t provoke any genuine re-examination of the party’s obsessions.


Sources: NY Post, Oregon Live!


14 thoughts on “Civilization Values Watch: The Kyle Hedquist Clemency Decision

  1. Cannibalism! Didn’t see THAT coming! But yes. Why aren’t humans eating other humans when they are eating all sorts of other animals with impunity? This is not an equitable result. It’s not fair. It’s specieism of the most hideous nature. Chickens and cows are people too.

    • Certainly, there’s a disparate outcome between the life expectancies of livestock and humans that must be rectified.

  2. “Oregon’s Woke Governor Kate Brown (above), who humiliated her state during the George Floyd Freakout” could have saved a lot of ink and silenced her critics if she had just said that murderer Kyle Hedquist *identifies* as an upstanding righteous citizen wholly devoted to improving the human condition.
    I mean really, who can argue with that?

  3. Last year Oregon basically eliminated juvenile sentences that go past 25. Since then there have been some truly horrific examples of why it is needed.
    There are some projections that Oregon may flip this fall, and this may be among the reasons why.

  4. I’m proud to say I live in an Oregon county that overwhelmingly voted against Brown. Our county also lead the state in trying to get her recalled.

    Some here wondered, during the pandemic, if she was trying to punish our county by making us mask up longer than the other counties. Her experts claimed our case numbers were higher and our “vaccine” rates were lower. But like the other counties, our numbers per capita, ebbed and flowed and at times we had fewer cases than Multnomah county (Portland).

    Regardless, I hope more people in OR are as tired of these anti-human and anti- community well-being policies as our county is.

    • Tell me if I’m wrong about this: one virtue of the US is that one can live very happily in a state or city with policies and ideological obsessions that one finds insufferable, as long as crime is controlled, the streets are clean, and neighbors respect your rights.

      • Absolutely. The caveat to that is the aspect of culture.

        For example, it’s possible my wife and I could have stayed in Portland – provided the crime, dirty streets, and obsessive overload of omnipresent virtual signaling – was kept at bay.

        However, personally, I wouldn’t have been nearly as happy there as I am here. The reason is I love the culture! Not only does the general ethos here feel more congruent to my personhood and values, this is a really fun place with history, customs, and character that increases freedom, joy, and a supportive involved community.

        You just can’t get that everywhere. I often feel like George Bailey nowadays.

        • I couldn’t agree more. We’re in the process of a permanent transition out of Austin to full-time living at our farm an hour away. One of the main reasons is the people. I can’t think of a single person in our tiny rural community who hasn’t been gracious, warm, and welcoming to us in the nine years we’ve owned the place. We have pretty decent neighbors in Austin, but the level of self-involvement and disregard for others in the city versus the helpful, generous attitude of the “country folk” is striking.

          The most noticeable difference is the children. I’ve never once seen any of the country kids over the age of three have a screaming meltdown. This seems to be a regular occurrence with city kids of all ages. The rural kids are almost all disciplined, polite, and self-directed. The cultural differences run much deeper than just politics.

          • I’ve noticed the same thing with kids here. Perhaps it helps that when people know each other more in a smaller knit community, it’s a little harder to get away with rudeness and mischief.

            • Yeah, I remember growing up in a relativity small town, you couldn’t get away with too much. Everywhere you went there was somebody who knew your parents, or at least knew who you belonged to.

              I think at least some of that is also related to church. Not necessarily the religion part (though the belief that an omnipotent being is always watching you can do wonders for developing self-control) , but the discipline and awareness of community that it brings to kids. The most mature-for-their-age kids on our street in Austin are from families that go to church.

  5. Regarding the last paragraph… “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard” seems especially relevant.

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