Portland, OR

Thursday in Portland: Portland man's 2018 murder conviction overturned and more top stories

Emily Scarvie

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, July 14 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Portland man's murder conviction overturned after prosecutors struck jury members due to race

After discovering that prosecutors dismissed two men from a jury pool because they were Black, the same race as the defendant, the Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a man accused of murder by abuse in the death of his 15-month-old daughter. During the 2018 trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the jury, which had no Black members, found Darian L. McWoods guilty.

Presiding Judge Josephine Mooney said Wednesday that while Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amanda Nadell gave race-neutral reasons for striking both prospective jurors, they were only a “pretext.”

“Racial discrimination in the selection of jurors is harmful,” Mooney wrote. “The state did not seek to strike similarly situated jurors who were not Black.”

The case will now return to Circuit Court, unless the Oregon Department of Justice appeals the overturned conviction to the state Supreme Court. It can now be either retried or dismissed.

McWoods, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, is currently serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute.

2. App aimed at quickly finding missing people launches in Portland on Thursday

A new app aimed at harnessing the power of communities and technology to help find missing people launched in Portland on Thursday. The app, named Q5id Guardian, works by creating a verified community of volunteers who can expand the search for a missing person and send localized alerts using geofencing, a technique that establishes a virtual perimeter, allowing family and community members to focus on a well-defined area in a search.

Users can be Guardian volunteers and Guardian+ subscribers. Volunteers are local citizens who have the free app and are opted in to receive alerts. They receive a push notification when a person goes missing in their immediate area and can join the search. Subscribers can issue alerts for their loved one the second they believe they’re missing, and can establish profiles with information on the missing person.

The app is expected to expand to other key cities in the west, including Seattle and Las Vegas, before eventually expanding nationally.

3. Chalk Art Festival comes to downtown Hillsboro this weekend

Elaborate chalk art is coming to downtown Hillsboro this weekend. The La Strada dei Pastelli Chalk Art Festival is a summer event that brings together more than two dozen nationally-recognized and emerging artists to create huge, temporary chalk illustrations in the center of the street.

Along with the visual art exhibitions, local performing artists and art vendors will also be in attendance. Children of all ages are encouraged to take part in several hands-on activities being offered by local nonprofits.

The free festival is being held along East Main Street between 1st and 4th in Hillsboro all weekend.

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