Wednesday, April 14, 2010
POLK COUNTY -- A man accused of killing a woman in West Salem in December is in custody in Montana.
Steven Cleland appeared in a Missoula courtroom on April 8 after being arrested there for picking a fight with a transient, according to a report by KPAX-TV Channel 8 in Missoula.
Authorities in Missoula discovered Cleland, 22, was wanted in Polk County on charges of manslaughter in the second-degree and criminally-negligent homicide.
Cleland allegedly shot Shelby Jo Landreth, 53, in West Salem on Dec. 20. Landreth died from complications to a gunshot wound seven days later, said Polk County District Attorney Stan Butterfield.
Butterfield said Cleland became a suspect in the days following the incident, but wasn't apprehended immediately and fled to Montana.
A Polk County grand jury later issued a secret indictment to pave the way for an arrest warrant, he said.
Secret indictments aren't typically made public until a suspect is arraigned. They're requested by prosecutors in situations where it's believed a suspect would flee if he or she was aware that legal action was forthcoming, Butterfield said.
During an April 8 court appearance, Cleland told a judge he would not fight extradition to Oregon and would come back to "face the consequences," according to KPAX.
"If we're successful with the extradition, he'll be brought back for arraignment here and the process will move forward," Butterfield said.
Butterfield said on Monday he couldn't disclose details on the case until Cleland returned.
Salem Police Department is handling the investigation.