Polk County Men Sentenced to Life in Prison

On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, the Honorable Charles E. Luukinen accepted the guilty pleas of Jimmy Fears and Zackery Mersch to the charge of Murder for their roles in the kidnapping and killing of James Hawkes, Jr. Both men received life sentences and will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.

Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton praised the help of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas Police Department, Monmouth Police Department, Independence Police Department, Oregon State Police, Benton County District Attorney’s Office, Oregon Department of Justice, Polk County Medical Examiner, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work in investigating and seeing the case to its conclusion.

The prosecution and defense team were also grateful for the help of Senior Judge Luukinen for his role in conducting a two-day settlement conference which led to the resolution.

“I am glad both defendants finally accepted responsibility for their roles in this terrible crime without forcing the victim’s family through the ordeal of a trial,” stated Felton.