Fretwell murder charges amended against Michael Wolfe


One of Wolfe's aggravated murder charges has been reduced to first-degree murder

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — Michael Wolfe, accused of killing Salem mother Karissa Fretwell and their 3-year-old son, had his charges amended in a Yamhill County courtroom Thursday.

Wolfe, 52, was originally facing 3 counts of aggravated murder. But because of a new Oregon law modifying what crimes fall under the only charge that could bring the death penalty, he is now facing just one count of aggravated murder, plus 1st-degree murder and kidnapping charges.

He’s accused of killing 25-year-old Fretwell and their son, Billy, in May. Their bodies were found about 10 miles outside the city of Yamhill in June after they were reported missing several weeks earlier.

Karissa died from a gunshot to the head. Billy’s cause of death has not been revealed.

karissa fretwell billy fretwell 05192019_1558373661424.jpg.jpg

Shortly before they died, Karissa battled Wolfe for child support.

Even though Senate Bill 1013 precludes Wolfe from facing the death penalty for Karissa, he still faces it for Billy.

“Senate Bill 1013 continues to include as an aggravating factor the death of a child 14 years of age, and Billy was 3 years of age,” said Yamhill County DA Brad Berry.

Berry added there has been “a lot of investigation in this case. We’ve alleged that they were kidnapped May 13 or May 14 of 2019.”

Yamhill County DA Brad Berry, November 7, 2019 (KOIN)

Next month, Wolfe’s defense plans to file a motion to dismiss the aggravated murder charge.

But Berry said it’s “not a surprise that they would attack that with the changes that Senate 1013 made to the aggravated murder statute.”

Michael Wolfe is one of several suspects in high-profile murder cases seeing changes because of a new law.

His next scheduled day in court is December 27.

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