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Man charged with death of Mitch York is back in custody facing new manslaughter charge

Posted by on November 18th, 2016 at 10:14 am

Schrantz booking photo.

Schrantz booking photo.

Joel Schrantz, the man with a long driving record who was driving on a suspended license when he failed to control his car and allowed it to slam into and kill Mitch York on the St. Johns Bridge last month, is back in custody.

After being initially arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide, Schrantz posted $2,000 bail (10 percent of total bail amount) and was set free pending trial. We confirmed with residents in his St. Johns neighborhood that he was indeed back at home. We also confirmed with the District Attorney’s office that Schrantz was under court mandate to check-in with law enforcement everyday and was not allowed to drive a car.

This past Tuesday, Schrantz was back in court to face formal charges in the case. According to Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Elisabeth Waner, the Grand Jury returned an indictment for the enhanced charge of manslaughter in the second degree (ORS 163.125). This is significant because manslaughter is a much more serious crime than criminally negligent homicide.

Manslaughter in the second degree is a Measure 11 crime in Oregon, which means it comes with a longer minimum prison sentence and higher bail amount than criminally negligent homicide (a charge that falls outside of Measure 11). Schrantz’s new bail amount is $250,000. Oregon law allows defendants to pay 10 percent of that amount, so Schrantz would have to come up with $25,000 to get out of custody.


The elevated charge also means the DA will have more to prove in order to find Schrantz guilty. Instead of finding him merely “negligent,” the DA will have to prove that his action were “reckless.” Those words have different meanings in Oregon law.

Here’s the statutory definition of criminal negligence in Oregon:

… means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

And here’s the definition of reckless:

…means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

If found guilty, Schrantz would face a minimum of 75 months in prison and would likely lose his driving privileges for the rest of his life. His current trial date is scheduled for December 28th.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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43 Comments
  • Disastronauticus November 18, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Wish I could express how much better this makes me feel. I hope this belligerent pos rots in jail for a very long time.

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  • Spiffy November 18, 2016 at 11:07 am

    the title of the article makes it sound like he killed somebody else and that’s why he’s back in jail…

    glad that’s not the case… but I was really worried for a minute there…

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  • Todd Boulanger November 18, 2016 at 11:08 am

    If he is sentenced to not be allowed to legally possess a drivers license and thus drive [assuming the diverse state based system of drivers licensing can truly enforce such nationwide] …

    …perhaps one of the best “punishments” for him would be to be mandated to bicycle everywhere…especially after once having received training on how to do it safely [sadly ironic]. Perhaps such education would be a measure of reform.

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    • Beth H November 18, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Bicycling as punishment would not incline former car drivers to feel friendly towards anyone else on a bicycle. We should reconsider the vocabulary and intention we use here.

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      • Todd Boulanger November 18, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        Yes – I agree the terminology is challenging – I was using the word “punishment” in quotes – as such a requirement would be seen through his eyes but not a punishment as seem by those of us in this community…that is why I also used the term “reform” if skills training were provided.

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      • bikeninja November 18, 2016 at 2:08 pm

        I agree that bicyling as punishment would be bad policy. I was thinking that instead of jail, he could serve out his sentence by being strapped in place ( in a standing position) at the edge of a dangerous bike lane, roadway interface as a human pylon. That way his punishment would enhance the safety of cyclists while he was doing his time, and the fear he feels as the careless drivers zoom by would be well deserved.

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      • Adron Hall November 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        This is a much better idea then issuing a “punishment” of freedom by bicycle. That’s way to good for this guy.

        Also, I’d like to also point out what others have – taking his license for life isn’t going to stop this guy. He needs to either A: be left in prison to rot or B: maybe remove his right foot so he can’t drive or put a chip in him that automatically triggers the cops to go pick him up anytime he gets in a car.

        Ugh, self-driving cars can’t arrive soon enough.

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      • Michael November 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

        It certainly worked for me. I was a terrible driver when I first started (hopefully not as bad as this guy, but lots of speeding, generally reckless stupid behavior). They rightfully yanked my license after not too long so I rode a bike everywhere. This prospective completely changed my entire attitude and behavior with respect to driving. I truly believe I would have seriously injured/killed myself or someone else by now if it hadn’t been for the change in perspective that riding a bike afforded me. Now of course this probably isn’t typical, but for some, it mey help quite a bit.

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    • K'Tesh November 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Why bike? Shoes are cheaper.

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    • pat Lowell November 18, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I totally agree, not as “punishment” but to encourage empathy. There are so many aspects of driving you just don’t think about until you’ve been on a bike — e.g. how terrifying it is when a car passes you too closely, while the driver might not give it a second thought because they’re going 20 mph (which feels slow in a car) and didn’t hit you. I was always a safe driver (IMO), but I think my driving habits have become drastically more bike-friendly since moving to Portland and becoming a daily bike commuter myself.

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  • Kristi Finney Dunn November 18, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I also paused over that headline. Good to know he didn’t do anything else. Reckless hopefully won’t be that hard to prove because of his past driving record, driving while suspended and sounding as if there’d been additional discussion about not driving, and chuckling at the scene of the tragedy.

    “Reckless driving” was dropped against the man who killed my son, which I did not agree with. He was driving drunk and had already gone through treatment and had already been charged with hit and run in a prior case less than a year before. It should not be so hard to prove.

    My heart feels for Mitch’s family, their loss and continuing drama. I hope justice is (somewhat) served.

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  • Ben Vulpes November 18, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah’s trial was this week – are we going to get coverage of that?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Ben,

      Good question. I’ll see what I can do.

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    • Cory P November 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      I figured he would have left the country by now. Is he still in Portland?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Pete November 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

        If he’s charged with a crime in the US, Saudi Arabia would likely not let him return. They’re not a country that’s known for going lightly on crime…

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  • Travis November 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    We should all badger our representatives regarding:

    -Improved oversight and harsher penalties for people driving without valid or on suspended DL. Most scuba shops will not fill tanks without a dive certificate. Need proof of age to buy alcohol. To fly. Maybe reaching, but is it so absurd to provide valid DL to buy gas? Of course we might want to provide an avenue for undocumented DLs first.

    -Better legal avenues to prosecute reckless and selfish drivers who cause injury or kill.

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    • Todd Boulanger November 18, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Yes agreed…though using fuel purchases may be difficult since many purchase fuel for “off road” purposes (landscaping/ farming tasks, off road recreational vehicles, camp stoves etc.)…

      …I do not have a good idea of an alternative tool that is effective without infringing on his constitutional rights or creating a monitoring headache for authorities…

      Perhaps someday our DL will be enhanced – have a chip in it that has to be inserted into a reader on the dashboard that then allows a vehicle to be running when on a public roadway (via GPS).

      I guess until then…perhaps authorities can put a GPS bracelet on him tied to a smart phone that requires him to log in as a passenger whenever he travels faster than 20 mph…like what we do when we use Waze etc.

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      • Travis November 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm

        True. Growing-up I did haul 5-gallons to the gas station on a skateboard to fill my boat before I had a DL.

        But if you’re filling-up a street legal vehicle or arrived driving, provide DL. Keeping a gas caddy and/or having someone else fill your rig will always be possible. Charge fuel acquiring accomplices with accessory.

        The larger value might be in the public taking driving more seriously.

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      • Todd Boulanger November 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        And then again there are electric cars …and self-service fuel in WA (or card lock stations)

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    • Lester Burnham November 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Don’t care what their status is, NOBODY should be operating a vehicle without a valid drivers license, registration, and insurance. Otherwise take the bus.

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    • Tom Hardy November 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      The last couple of years it was a pretty clear approach to undocumented ODL licenses and voter registration.

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    • Pete November 19, 2016 at 9:09 am

      It’s all about priorities. DOT is spending mounds of money researching wireless infrastructure letting cars talk to each other and to lightposts, meanwhile we could chip driver licenses to enable/disable them from starting cars based on legal driver status. Breathalyzer interlocks are also a feasible and affordable technology right now.

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  • Kyle Banerjee November 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Travis
    – Maybe reaching, but is it so absurd to provide valid DL to buy gas?

    An interesting concept. There would be significant resistance, but it doesn’t sound out of the realm of possibility as I would expect significant support.

    Note that this would be much easier to implement here than elsewhere since we don’t have self serv gas.

    Privacy advocates would howl, but the reality is we get asked for ID for all kinds of things. Besides, smartphones, electronic payments, etc track people far more thoroughly.

    I wouldn’t worry about the offroad diesel, electric car, and other exceptions. A mechanism like this would undoubtedly get a high percentage of these motorists off the roads, and that by itself would be a major step forward.

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    • Spiffy November 18, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      “we get asked for ID for all kinds of things”

      can’t remember the last time I had to show my ID…

      probably when I got my last job…

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      • John Lascurettes November 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

        Well, considering you must carry a valid one, by law, while driving a motor vehicle, it’s still not unreasonable to ask for it at the pump.

        Now, if I had biked over with a canister to fill it for garden or recreation equipment, that might be a different matter. 🙂

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      • Kyle Banerjee November 20, 2016 at 8:03 pm

        In all fairness, the type of person who’d even contemplate that kind of trip on a bike would probably have electric equipment for the garden.

        Trying to figure out what kind of recreational gear you’d want to fuel with a canister you could haul on a bike. 5 gallons of gas weighs about 40 lbs.

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      • BB November 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm

        And I run my mower for a year on one..

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      • Pete November 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

        Apparently you don’t have to fly much… lucky guy. 🙂

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      • Kyle Banerjee November 20, 2016 at 7:59 pm

        Your experience is clearly different than mine.

        I get carded all the time. This month alone, I’ve been carded multiple times to buy booze, I’ve been carded to buy spray paint as well as other chemicals, to pick up packages, and to use credit cards.

        I’m clean cut, have no tats, I’m polite, and I turn 50 in a few months.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty November 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I would howl. Besides, it’s easily evaded. You just get your boyfriend or wife to buy the gas.

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      • rachel b November 19, 2016 at 6:53 pm

        I always get my boyfriend or wife to buy the gas.

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    • Chris I November 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Pumps could have scanners, which would scan the bar code on your ID. An attendant could override if there were problems with the scanners (ensuring that no one would be held up if there were an issue with the scanner). This could work in any state, potentially.

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  • Laura November 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Another thing that might help is requiring vehicle inspections, not just DEQ, in order to renew/register a vehicle. I see all sorts of scary jalopies out there with bald tires, broken/missing mirrors, broken/dead headlights, and probably failing brakes. Also, when renewing, they ask about insurance, but do they actually check to see if the registered owner has a valid drivers license?

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    • MaxD November 18, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      What about requiring a driving permit in the window of car that requires a vaild DL and insurance for the person who owns the car. THe thing could be good for 3 months and provided by insurance companies. There would definitely be ways around this, but it would be a good start at identifying and removing the road some of the people driving w/o insurance or valid DL’s. I also like the idea of basic safety inspections at time of DEQ inspections. Maybe they could ding people for jacking up their trucks and altering their exhaust systems.

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    • B. Carfree November 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Way back before the rise of the crazies (a certain wing of a certain political party that hates taxes and wants to run the government while insisting that government cannot solve any problems), California had a vehicle inspection program. The California Highway Patrol would set up along roadways and wave cars into an inspection line as space opened up. They did a complete inspection, including headlight alignment and tire condition, and gave the driver a fix-it ticket for any defects. One had a short window (a month?) to correct the defects and bring the car into the DMV for a re-inspection. Failure to do so turned the fix-it ticket into a real citation with a fine and a red-tag (loss of road use) for the vehicle. Occasionally, a car was in such bad repair that they would remove it from service right at the inspection site.

      Sadly, such a program costs money that we don’t have and all it does is save innocent lives. Who’s going to fund something like that?

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    • Todd Hudson November 19, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Even red states like Texas do this.

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  • dan November 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    It’s hard to see the right way to deal with guys like this. I would bet money that he will continue driving without a license after he gets out of jail. The only way to keep him from doing so is to keep him in jail. Showing a DL to buy gas strikes me as unworkable, and frankly smacks of police state in a way that, given recent political events, I find offputting. Maybe requiring a DL to buy a car (including via private sales), and register a car is a start, along with confiscation of cars loaned to people without valid DLs.

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    • Stephen Keller November 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      This could be addressed with technology: a fingerprint-activated drivers license based on an embedded smart card that cryptographically communicated with a vehicle’s engine management system. Such systems already exist in other contexts. It’s just a question of will and deployment.

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      • Stephen Keller November 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm

        Political will, that is.

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  • Adami November 19, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I don’t think banning him for life from driving will break his heart TOO much.

    I mean, he was already driving on a suspended license when he murdered somebody.

    I don’t get the impression following the rules is high on his agenda…

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  • q`Tzal November 21, 2016 at 7:16 am

    I’m fairly autism spectrum but everything about his face screams “F#$! You! I didn’t do anything wrong! He had it coming!”

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    • BB November 21, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Actually he’s doing Fake Sad so his lawyer can claim that he feels bad for the killing..

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    • lyle w November 24, 2016 at 9:14 am

      The fact that he chuckled to the officer interviewing him after the accident would also lead one to come to that conclusion.

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