Alisha Myers

Sentenced to Life Without Parole at age 18 years and 10 days

Alisha D. Myers



Pilot Staff Writer

GOLD BEACH – The young woman who brutally killed Harbor resident Evelyn Harris Tickner will spend the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole, Curry County Circuit Court Judge Hugh Downer ruled Monday.

Alisha Dawn Myers, 19, was convicted last Thursday of murdering and robbing the 87-year-old woman in February 2003, after Tickner returned home from lunch with friends. Myers then stole Tickner's car and was arrested the next morning in Grants Pass.

Because Myers did not seek a jury trial, the state agreed not to seek the death penalty, said Oregon Assistant Attorney General/Special Deputy Daina Vitolins.

During the penalty phase of the trial, which began Thursday, Myers' Attorney Donald Scales had attempted to get her a lesser sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

"We recommend you give a sentence with parole so she will have incentive to change and take responsibility for this crime," Scales told Downer.

Testifying for the defense, Myers' mother, Malida "Shelly" Myers, said her methamphetamine habit was more important than being a mother to Alisha and her other three children.

Alisha, and Shelly's teenage son, who sat in the audience, cried as Shelly gave a tearful account of her life.

Shelly said she married Alisha's father, Daniel Myers, currently in an Oregon prison for murder, at age 16 when she was pregnant with her first child. The couple have since divorced.

Shelly said she started using methamphetamine at age 26, before Alicia was in the first grade.

"My daughter has seen me do drugs and has done drugs with me," Shelly said. "I wasn't there for (my children) at all. Drugs were my only support and friend."

Scales asked Shelly if she ever tried to help Alicia stay away from drugs.

"Not on a genuine level," Shelly said. "I was too into drugs myself. It was easier to turn to drugs than deal with my problems."

Shelly admitted that she also had a history of assault, and getting arrested in front of Alisha was a "routine occurrence."

Shelly said she was aware that Alisha was sexually molested by her boyfriends when Alisha was a youth, but never bothered to call authorities.

"I can't tell you why I didn't," Shelly said.

Scales asked Shelly if she had a problem with lying in her life.

"Yeah," Shelly said. "I showed (Alisha) how to manipulate and lie over the years."

Myers was violent in the years leading up to her murder conviction, which was revealed by former juvenile probation officers from Douglas and Curry counties, who testified for the prosecution that Myers was adjudicated on assault, harassment and a variety of other charges as a youth.

Curry County Sheriff's Detective Dave Gardiner testified that while Alisha Myers was incarcerated in August 2003, deputies found letters and diagrams outlining an escape plan that Myers concocted.

Deputies also overheard a conversation she had about planning her escape from custody, he said.

Gardiner read a letter signed by Myers to an accomplice in which someone named "Josh" would create a diversion while "a couple guys jump the guard, steal his keys and keep him occupied so we can get loose."

The victim's stepson Bill Tickner, who was in court during the entire proceedings, said Evelyn was the "quintessential grandmother" and one of the most "genuine and nice" people he has ever met.

"She loved all living, breathing things," Bill said of the retired school teacher. "If a critter showed up, she would feed it. ... She would pick up homeless people at the mission and bring them to do work. I miss her a lot. She was a real pleasure to know."

Addressing Downer, Bill Tickner called Myers a "heathen" and a "pathological liar" who would kill again if given the chance for parole.

"The first time I saw her likeness was a picture in the newspaper, and I remarked to my wife that there was nothing in her eyes," Bill said. "They were dead."

The victim's daughter, Paula Tickner, said her mother never had a violent thought in her life and should have died peacefully.

"I don't want this young woman to get out of jail ever," Paula said.

Evelyn's next-door neighbor, Colleen Horton, said Tickner's "brutal" murder was senseless and she couldn't fathom how Myers' mind works.

"The defendant should get the death sentence, but that's not an option," Horton said.

Evelyn's nephew, Jeff Tickner, in a written statement said his aunt was a kind and gentle person, and Myers should get the most severe penalty possible.

"I would rather have the death penalty," Jeff said.

On Monday, Psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Larsen, who evaluated Myers four times after she was arrested for murdering Tickner, testified for the defense that during his first meeting with Myers, her IQ appeared to be in the "mild-mentally retarded" range.

Larsen later found her IQ to be on a "12-year-old" level, but also revealed she has a "mixed personality disorder" that would need years of treatment combined with prescription drugs to cure.

Scales asked Larsen if Myers' mother's ongoing "overt" lesbian relationship and drug abuse combined with her father's incarceration had an affect on her.

Larsen said those factors caused Myers to become "defensive, reclusive and combative."

Larsen added that only in a strict, defined setting would Myers have the "potential" to improve herself.

Scales asked Larsen if most prisons offer the treatment and environment Myers would need to rehabilitate, and Larsen said, "Yes."

Scales asked if it would help Myers if she had an incentive to become rehabilitated, and Larsen said it would be "extremely important."

During cross-examination, Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General O. Scott Jackson asked Larsen to describe the current treatment resources available to Myers in Oregon's prisons that she would need to become rehabilitated.

Larsen called them "Very limited."

Also Monday, Vitolins called Gardiner back to the stand and asked him to read entries from Myers' journal, recovered during her arrest in Grants Pass.

In her journal, Myers wrote that she was planning to get out of Brookings and start a new life in Eugene.

"The plan is to take care of me," Gardiner read from Myers' journal.

During his final remarks to Downer, Jackson said Myers' determination to kill Tickner was "frightening" and said there was no justification for reducing Myers' sentence to anything other than life in prison, especially since she never showed any remorse for killing Tickner.

"This is exactly the type of crime a true life sentence is designed for," Jackson said. "The facts cry out for a true life sentence, and justice demands a true life sentence."

As Myers sat in her orange jail garb staring at the floor, Scales displayed a chart with a long list of reasons for her behavior, which included "non-existent" parenting, being denied a stable home, abandonment and neglect by her mother, sexual abuse and a lack of stable role models.

"Her pathological dishonesty was learned from on the best – her mother," Scales said. "Her mother testified that she helped to get Alisha out of meetings with her probation officers. She taught her to steal as well."

Scales told Downer that, although her crime was "horrible, despicable and brutal," Myers should still be given the chance to rehabilitate and reenter society.

"It will be a high hurdle for her to get back into society," Scales said. "This is a young woman who never really had a chance in life. You are not rewarding her by giving her life with parole.

In rebuttal, Jackson said Larsen testified that Myers' chances of getting rehabilitated in prison were unlikely, and just because someone has a bad childhood doesn't mean they cannot lead an honest and productive life.

Jackson added that Tickner represents the most vulnerable people in society, and the only way for the court to protect elderly people like Tickner was to hand Myers a life sentence.

"The defendant preyed on that vulnerability," Jackson said.

Before Downer made his decision, he asked Myers if she wished to make a statement and, through her attorneys, she declined.

In rendering his decision, Downer said he understood the horrible childhood that Myers endured, but he couldn't set aside the fact of how "savage, vicious and brutal" the assault was on such a "kind and gentle" woman as Tickner.

He then sentenced Myers to life in prison.

"My regret is the mother is not going prison because she is also responsible," Downer said.

Downer also imposed $607 in fines, which were later waived at the request of Myers' defense attorneys and at the agreement of the prosecution.

Jackson said the state would also dismiss Myers' second case, which included charges of first-degree attempted escape (felony), second-degree attempted escape, four counts of soliciting escape and two counts of conspiring to escape.

After court was adjourned, Bill Tickner said he felt the trial "came out the way it should," and praised prosecutors Jackson and Vitolins for their diligent work.

"It was a brutal and vicious crime," Bill said. "I am convinced (Myers) would have killed again."

Regarding Downer's decision, Bill said, "Society is better for it."

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