Twenty-five years later, Diane Downs still insists that she is innocent of shooting her children, one fatally, in a crime that riveted Oregonians and was recounted in an Ann Rule book and a TV movie starring Farrah Fawcett. Next Tuesday, she comes up for a parole hearing.
SALEM, Ore. — Twenty-five years later, Diane Downs still insists that she is innocent of shooting her children, one fatally, in a crime that riveted Oregonians and was recounted in an Ann Rule book and a TV movie.
Next Tuesday, she comes up for a parole hearing.
Downs, now 53, was convicted in 1984. Suspicion turned to her shortly after she arrived at a Springfield hospital, her three children wounded and a bullet in her left arm, shouting, “Somebody just shot my kids!”
The prosecution said Downs shot them because she hoped to free herself to rekindle a romance with a married Arizona man.
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Key testimony came from her oldest daughter, Christie Ann, who was 8 when shot. Her 7-year-old daughter, Cheryl, died from her wounds and Downs’ 3-year-old son, Daniel, was paralyzed.
Sobbing at times, Christie Ann testified that her mother took a gun out of the trunk of the car and opened fire.
Oregonians were shocked and captivated by the horrific story through a six-week trial, during which Downs claimed that a man shot the children.
“Over the years, I have told you and the rest of the world that a man shot me and my children. I have never changed my story,” she wrote in her parole application.
Prosecutors scoff and point to her varying stories: A “bushy-haired stranger” flagged down her car and shot her and the children. Or the shootings were done by two men wearing ski masks. Or the shootings were the doings of drug dealers and corrupt law-enforcement officials.
“Downs continues to fail to demonstrate any honest insight into her criminal behavior,” Lane County District Attorney Douglas Harcleroad wrote the parole board. “… Even after her convictions, she continues to fabricate new versions of events under which the crimes occurred.”
Her chief prosecutor at the time, Fred Hugi, is now retired. He adopted the surviving children, who are reported to have productive adult lives.
Harcleroad said Danny remains paralyzed from the chest down and “will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Christie has permanent partial paralysis on one side of her body.”
If Downs’ parole is denied, her next chance will be in two years.