The Oregonian, Friday, June 14, 1996, p. C3

Prosecutor says gang foe ordered murder

By Jeff Barnard
The Associated Press

EUGENE - A woman who served on an anti-gang task force actually organized a gang and sent two members to commit Eugene's first gang murder, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Mary L. Thompson, 41, of Eugene is being tried in Lane County Circuit Court for aggravated murder, hindering prosecution and burglary in the Oct. 3, 1994, slaying of Aaron Iturra, 18.

In his opening statement, prosecutor Steve Skelton said Thompson told police she "went berserk" with anger after learning Iturra told detectives he saw her son with a knife during a fight at a store.

Intent on keeping her son, Beau Flynn, then 16, from going back to a state juvenile detention center, Thompson organized the 74 Hoover Crips. She persuaded two teen-agers to take a stolen .38-caliber revolver to Iturra's home to kill him, Skelton told jurors.

Iturra was killed as he slept with his girlfriend. James Elstad, who shot Iturra in the head, and Joseph Brown have been convicted of murder.

After the killing, Brown and Elstad went to Thompson's home, where they told the woman they called "Moms" that they had killed Iturra. Thompson made a phone call to confirm "they'd taken care of business," Skelton said.

Thompson drove Brown home and they stopped along the Willamette River, where Brown threw the gun in the water, Skelton said. It was found the next day by fishermen who turned it over to police.

"She had full knowledge that Mr. Elstad was going to that residence to kill Mr. Iturra," Skelton said. "She wanted him to do it. She encouraged him to do it."

Brown and Elstad indicated in pre-trial hearings they won't testify against Thompson. Judge Lyle Velure has ruled Elstad's statements to police can be admitted as evidence if he refuses to take the stand.

Police began suspecting Thompson after a teen-ager associated with the gang said he heard Thompson tell Brown and Elstad, "Good job," after they killed Iturra, Skelton said.



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