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Charina Owen, 37, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, court dismissed abuse of corpse

PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY CORRECTIONS - Charina Owen, 37, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend, Byron Hilands, in Culver. In June of 2020 law enforcement found Hilands' decomposing body in a refridgerator on the property where the couple lived.

Monday, July 26, Jefferson County Judge Michael McClane sentenced Charina Owen, 37, to 264 months in prison for the death of her boyfriend, Byron Hilands.

In May of 2020, deputies found Hilands' decomposing body in a nonfunctioning refridgerator at the couple's Culver home. They later arrested Owen, also known as Charina Mathews, for the crime.

Owen's family and Hilands' uncle attended the sentencing.

"It's done," said Hilands' uncle, Mark Bross, who traveled from West Linn to be at the sentencing. "I represented his family, his brother, his aunts, his uncles." Hilands' parents are no longer alive.

"I would have liked to have seen more," said Bross.

Owen pleaded guilty to manslaughter, robbery and felon in possession of a firearm. The court dismissed charges of burglary and abuse of corpse.

"Nothing about how she moved the body and let it rot for months while she figured out how to get away with this," said Bross.

For the family of Owen, the sentence is too long.

"What am I going to do without my best friend for 20 years?" said her mother, who didn't want her name used. "She's a very charismatic person."

PAT KRUIS/MADRAS PIONEER - Owen's brother, Jacob Owen, (left)  and her son, Clayton Mathews, 19, say Charina was a good person caught up in addiction. They both say they'll stay in her life while she's incarcerated.

"I don't want her to be remembered or vilified for a single event," said Owen's brother, Jacob Owen, "when she's done more good than harm."

"She's safe," said Clayton Mathews, Owen's son. "She was a great mom when she was around."

Mathews says Owen was in and out of prison and fighting addiction since he was 3 years old. He grew up with his maternal grandparents.

Jacob Owen described the relationship between his sister and her boyfriend as "gas on fire, mutually assured destruction." He's not surprised the relationship had a violent end.

Charina Owen will spend the next 22 years at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville.

Byron Hilands' remains are buried next to his parents in their family cemetery in Beaver Creek.

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