From The Oregonian – Thursday, October 24, 1991. Not available online.
A Portland man who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy Tuesday night had worked as a defense investigator on a number of prominent criminal cases, including that of Frank E. Gable, who was convicted of the murder of Oregon Corrections Director Michael Francke.
Authorities said that Herbert Wayne Holm, 36, of 4937 N.E. Pacific St., was shot to death after arranging to buy a kilogram of cocaine from Brian Martinek, an undercover Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy.
Deputies had planned to arrest Holm after the sale, but police said that Holm robbed Martinek of the cocaine at gunpoint instead. Holm was shot by Martinek, 31, when he tried to flee, then turned and pointed his loaded handgun at the deputy.
Authorities originally said that Holm fired at Martinek, prompting a return of gunfire. But they said Wednesday that Holm’s .38-caliber revolver, fully loaded with hollow-point bullets, never was fired.
Holm had a criminal record dating to 1978. Most of the charges in his record are comparatively minor offenses, such as traffic crimes and shoplifting. But he also had been convicted of possession of cocaine in July. He was sentenced to 20 years in the Oregon State Penitentiary in 1983 on charges of first-degree rape and sodomy.
Holm was out by 1985 and began working for Perfectly Legal Documents, a paralegal firm in Northeast Portland.
“I met him shortly after he got out of prison,” said Michel Wagner, owner of the company. “I advertised for a roommate, and he was one of the people who responded to the ad.
“We became very good friends and were able to help each other over the years, he by introducing me to other lawyers and I by helping him with things such as word processing,” Wagner said.
Wagner said Holm told him he was innocent of the rape and sodomy charges. Wagner wrote in a June 26 letter to the judge who sentenced Holm on the Clackamas County drug charges that the offense was the product of an “extreme emotional upheaval.”
“He was involved with a woman who was a heavy substance abuser,” Wagner said Wednesday.
“For the majority of the six years I knew him, he was a very stable individual,” Wagner said. “He wasn’t the type of individual to do the type of things the police have alleged him to have done. He was an investigator, and a very good one.”
Holm had worked as a defense investigator on a number of prominent criminal cases in Oregon. He most recently worked on the Gable case, having been hired by another investigator, Richard Bruce Cummins, to go through police records and arrest reports and put together an index that would be used by defense attorneys.
He billed the state $2,537.50 for his work and was removed from the case, said chief defense investigator Tom McCallum, after Holm was arrested while driving in Cummins’ car near Cottage Grove.
Holm was taken into custody on seven fugitive charges, including being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon and carrying a concealed weapon. McCallum said that Holm worked only “peripherally” on the case and wasn’t one of the lead investigators.
According to the Oregon State Police custody report on Holm, the arrest was March 16, while the jury was being selected to hear the Gable case.
Wagner said Holm was hired by a number of other Portland area attorneys because he had become something of an expert at doing independent calculations of parole and probation dates, based on Oregon’s complex matrix sentencing system.
Wagner added that he didn’t believe the police version of Holm’s death.
“I don’t believe it was his weapon,” Wagner said of the revolver found near Holm’s body. “In the six years I knew him, he never owned a handgun.”
An autopsy performed Wednesday showed that Holm was shot once in the arm and once in the back. Dr. Karen Gunson, a deputy state medical examiner, said the wound to Holm’s right arm was made while Holm had his arm extended, as though he was pointing at whoever shot him. The fatal shot entered Holm’s back and pierced his lungs and heart.
The shooting will be investigated by a grand jury, Deputy District Attorney John Hoover said. Hoover said he personally believed Martinek was justified because he was in danger of being killed.
“I don’t see anything wrong at all with anything that happened,” Hoover said.
Deputies became aware of Holm’s interest in buying cocaine about a week ago, Hoover said, and began organizing the sting operation Tuesday morning.
Deputies recorded telephone conversations with Holm where he discussed the specifics of the deal, and recorded him again via a body-wire on one of the investigators, Hoover said.
Martinek met with Holm at 2:30 p.m. and showed him a small quantity of cocaine to assure Holm that the cocaine was pure. Holm asked to buy 2.2 pounds of cocaine at a price that would be negotiated later in the day. Hoover said such a quantity of cocaine would generally sell for $20,000 in a similar street deal.
Selling cocaine to a suspect is known as a “reverse sting” and is unusual, Hoover said, because of the risks involved. Under provisions of a district attorney’s policy adopted in 1987, sheriff’s detectives cleared the arrangement with Hoover, who is the senior deputy in charge of the office’s drug unit.
Hoover said such sting operations are done only against people who can be shown in court to be probable drug traffickers. He added that Holm’s previous convictions, information deputies gained from a confidential informant and things that Holm said on the surreptitious tape recordings convinced Hoover to recommend that the sting operation be approved.
The sale was arranged and was to have taken place at Northeast 53rd Avenue and Halsey Street. Police said Martinek and Holm sat in Martinek’s truck in the residential neighborhood and negotiated the sale for a few minutes before Holm pulled a gun and took the package of drugs.
Holm then started running away from Martinek’s pickup and slipped on the wet pavement as he crossed to the south side of Halsey, sheriff’s spokesman Bart Whalen said. Martinek shouted for Holm to halt, Holm then turned and pointed his gun toward Martinek, Whalen said, and Martinek fired.
Whalen said Holm ran about 50 feet toward a waiting getaway car after being shot through the heart. He then collapsed in the street. He later was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gayle Russell Putnam, 53, was arrested in the getaway car and charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and first-degree robbery.