Court of Appeals denies claim of woman who threatened to shoot neighbor
A Hillsboro woman convicted of threatening to shoot her neighbor during a property dispute in 2015 lost her appeal this week, after the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that a recording of her making the threat was evidence that should be heard at trial.
Elizabeth Ryan Rainey, 75, was convicted of misdemeanor menacing in 2016. She had an ongoing argument with her neighbor, Casey Coleman, about the property line between their two homes, according to court records.
On Aug. 7, 2015, Rainey reportedly got so upset during an argument with Coleman she told him she owned a gun and was serious about killing him. The altercation was loud enough to be heard from an upstairs window in Coleman's home, where Coleman's stepsister heard the argument and recorded it on her cellphone, pointing the recording device toward the open window.
Neither Rainey nor Coleman knew they were being recorded, according to prosecutors.
The recording of Rainey's threat was played at her trial and Rainey was sentenced to two years' probation. She was not allowed to interact with Coleman or his family, and was told to stay off their property.
Rainey appealed her conviction, arguing that the incriminating evidence should not have been allowed during her trial, because she did not know that she was being recorded.
A three-judge panel ruled Oct. 3 that the recording of Rainey was admissible, and that the woman who recorded it was within her rights to do so.
Under Oregon law, at least one of the participants must be informed they are being recorded, but the judges ruled that same law excludes recordings people make inside their own homes.
The question, then, judges said, was whether the law allowed recordings made within a person's home that captures conversations held outside the home.
"Does the exception in (Oregon law) apply only when the recorded conversation occurs in the home or when the recording occurs in the home, regardless of where the conversation occurs?" Judge Jack Landau wrote in the court's opinion.
Rainey argued the exception deals exclusively with recordings and conversations made within a person's home, and outside conversations weren't included.
Landau and the other judges disagreed.
"Her assertion that the exception must be limited to those circumstances is untenable," Landau wrote. "…In this case (Rainey) does not explain ? and we do not understand ?how the wording of (the law) reasonably can be construed to limit the exception to conversations occurring in the home."
The three judges ruled her trial judge in Washington County was right to allow the recording into her trial.
Rainey does not have any other criminal history.