The Murder of Candice Straub
In the early morning hours of June 20, 1987 firefighters in Portland Oregon were called to a motel. Once the fire was out they would find the body twenty-six year old Candice Straub in one of the rooms on a bed. An autopsy would reveal that she had been strangled before her death and a flammable liquid had been poured on her body and set on fire after her death.
A few weeks later a man by the name of Marco Montez would tell the woman he lived with, Annie Edmo, in Idaho that he had helped another man, Timothy Aikens, dispose of a body in Oregon where they had been working as strawberry pickers. Edmo would call the local police. They would arrest Montez a few days later on July 12th on unrelated charges if for no other reason to get him in for questioning. They had also contacted the Portland police.
Once Montez started talking he seemed to change his story often. In his first story to investigators he would claim that Aikens had called him to the motel and he had seen Candice's body in the tub of the room. He would claim that Aikens had said she had refused to have sex with him so he had hit her and she had hit her head. Montez would tell investigators that he refused to help Aikens and he left the motel claiming that Aikens must have then set the fire. Montez's next story would be one in which he admitted helping move Candice's body from the tub to the bed and setting the fire. He would later admit that the fire was in fact his idea.
Montez would take two lie detector tests on July 16th and 17th and after being informed that he had failed them, he changed his story again. In this story he would say that both he and Aikens had beat, raped and sodomized her and when she resisted Aikens had “pushed his fist into her anus” in which there was a lot of blood. The men had then tied both her arms and legs behind her and gagged her, putting her in the tub. It was then that they decided they needed to kill her so she could not live to identify them. They put a towel around her neck and each of the men pulled an end until she was no longer breathing. They then put her body back on the bed, doused her with lighter fluid and set the room on fire before leaving.
While still in Iowa he had apparently told an officer that he would plead guilty to the charges because the last thing that he wanted was a death sentence. By August 28th, apparently back in Oregon he admitted even his last story was not completely true and stated it was he, not Aikens who had penetrated her anus.
Montez would go to trial in 1988 and be convicted of aggravated murder. The defense had not really argued that Montez had participated in the death of Candice but they argued against the “torture” the prosecution stated happened to which elevated the murder charge and made the death penalty an option. I personally found this argument ridiculous considering the damage done to her body as well as the stories that were told. I think one can hardly say she was not tortured. It appears that Timothy Aikens however was allowed to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. He would receive a life sentence on three counts of aggravated murder, one count of arson and one count of abuse of a corpse.
Just as was the case with Randy Guzek in Oregon that I recently blogged about Marco Montez had his death sentenced overturned, although I could not find the exact reason. He was re-sentenced to death in August of 1992. His attorneys continue to argue against his sentence through appeals.
I had several legal questions from this case. I do not dispute that Marco Montez was guilty in this case but my first question arose from his prior history. According to the Oregon Department of corrections he was sentenced to three years in prison for robber in November of 1986, just seven months before the murder of Candice Straub. According to the site he was not eligible for release until until December 1989 and yet he was obviously not in prison, nor even living in the state apparently at the time of the murder.
My next legal issue is something I have seen often and yet do not quite understand. This was obviously one murder, of one person, Candice Straub. And yet both Montez and Aikens were not just charged but found guilty on three counts of aggravated murder. I realize that the charges themselves are legal, as they are done all over the country but I do not find the point in it.
My last legal issue when it came to this case was similar to the case against Randy Guzek who had his death sentence overturned three times. The state of Oregon is by no means worried about putting their inmates to death. The next blog that I intend to do also involves an Oregon death row inmate and I found that by 2008 they had only executed two people in over twenty-four years and only because those men forced them too by ending their appeals. In November of 2016 it was reported Oregon had thirty-five people on death row and yet they do not utilize their death chamber. Capital murder cases cost much more than other cases not just at trial but in the appeals process, as well as housing. I understand that they have the death penalty but until they intend to use it I do not see much point in not only seeking the death penalty but in cases such as this one and the Guzek case, arguing for it more than once.