Attorney Says Treaty Ignored in Killing Case

By Christine Dellert | The Oregonian | June 27, 2005

Summary: A lawyer argues that Deniz Aydiner, charged in a University of Portland student's death, was illegally enticed to leave Turkey

The attorney for a Turkish man accused of killing a University of Portland student in her dorm room will ask a judge today to dismiss the charges, saying police violated international law.

Defense attorney Stephen Houze said local and federal law enforcement officials ignored a treaty between the United States and Turkey, and tricked Deniz C. Aydiner into returning to Portland last year by granting him a temporary visa. The three-day visa expired Jan. 16, 2004, the day Aydiner arrived at Portland International Airport and was arrested in the killing of Kate Johnson, 21.

Johnson was found sexually assaulted and strangled in a second-floor dormitory of the university's Mehling Hall on May 29, 2001. Aydiner and Johnson were described as acquaintances who had mutual friends.

Houze will argue that Turkish law prohibits the extradition of its citizens for crimes committed in foreign countries, including crimes for which the death penalty is sought. If the charges are dismissed by Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden, Aydiner would return to Turkey and face a criminal trial in Johnson's death, Houze said.

The Multnomah County district attorney, Portland Police Bureau and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security "engaged in conduct that was in direct violation of the treaty, which prohibited bringing Mr. Aydiner from Turkey to the U.S. to be tried on these charges," Houze said.

Prosecutors, however, say authorities did not violate the international agreement because Aydiner's re-entry into the country was voluntary. Police and Homeland Security agents "simply allowed someone who wished to enter the United States to do so," said Norm Frink, a chief deputy district attorney.

But a report filed last week by the district attorney's office said it would not dispute the claim that authorities lied to Aydiner about his visa waiver.

Federal immigration officials, working with Portland police and the U.S. embassies in Ankara, Turkey, and Athens, Greece, secured a "public interest parole" entry for Aydiner. He had been turned away from entering the United States in March 2003 because he had overstayed a six-month business visa.

Authorities obtained his travel itinerary and helped police track his flights from Turkey through Germany to Portland -- without telling Aydiner or his American wife. A report from the Multnomah County district attorney's office said the U.S. government was not obligated to inform the Aydiners of their surveillance.

In a statement to the court, Houze called those efforts "manipulating the immigration process."

According to Houze's motion, the chief investigator on the case, Detective Jon Rhodes, admitted the deception to a friend of Aydiner's wife. Rhodes said that the "only reason (Aydiner) was back in the United States was because of our requests of INS and Customs to approve his visa so he could get back into the country so we could arrest him."

Houze has subpoenaed 10 Portland detectives and federal immigration and customs officials to testify, but their attorneys have filed motions to stop him.

U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut filed a motion arguing that the state court doesn't have the authority to order Homeland Security officials to testify.

A Multnomah County grand jury indicted Aydiner in January on 17 felony charges, including 11 counts of aggravated murder stemming from Johnson's death. Two months later, he was indicted on three additional counts of first-degree burglary involving students' rooms in Johnson's dormitory two months before her death.

A DNA match between Aydiner and crime scene evidence, reported in June 2003, launched officers' search for Aydiner and eventually led to their negotiations with federal officials.