Friday, October 03, 2008

Infamous Murderers - Diane Downs



Diane Downs is incarcerated at the Valley State Prison for Women in
Chowchilla, California. She is serving a sentence of life in prison plus
50 years with a 25 year minimum. However, more time was tacked
onto her sentence after her escape from prison in 1987, extending
her sentence to life in prison plus 65 years.

2008 - December 9 - Diane Downs Parole hearing is scheduled to be
heard for a release date in 2009. It's likely she'll appear before the
board via video link from the prison. Even Downs should gain parole,
she will still have a five year sentence for her escape that must be
considered, but that could be written off for good behavior. Downs
however, to this date maintains her innocence.
"Downs' sentence made her eligible for parole consideration after
serving 25 years, and under Oregon law as a dangerous offender, she
will be eligible for a parole consideration hearing every two
years until she is released or dies in prison."
The Oregon parole board rarely grants such requests.

Downs was was convicted for the 1983 murder of her daughter
Cheryl Lynn Downs, aged 7, and the attempted murders of
Stephen Daniel "Danny" Downs and of Christie Ann Downs, aged
8 who also survived. Contrary to Downs' continued assertions, Dan
remains paralyzed from the chest down, confined to a wheelchair
for the rest of his life. Christie has permanent partial paralysis
on one side of her body."

Downs pulled to the side of the road in May of 1983 and shot into her car,
killing the sleeping Cheryl. Then she turned the gun on her other helpless
children Danny and Christie. She drove slowly to the hospital and then
blamed the killings on a bushy haired stranger.

Diane Downs was diagnosed during the trial as a deviant sociopath.

Downs has been deemed a most litigious convict in the State of Oregon.

1984- June 14 -Diane Downs was convicted of murder, attempted murder
in the first degree, a second account of attempted murder in the first degree,
first-degree assault, and a count of first-degree assault.

Diane Downs was incarcerated at the Women's Correctional
Facility in Salem, Oregon. She dressed herself in multiple layers of clothing,
and climbed over two sets of high security wire topped with barbed wire.
Downs dropped to the ground and hid under a vehicle for a few moments
and then discarding a shredded garment, probably used around her hands,
she then climbed out from under the truck, walked away and hitched a ride
literally across the street. After a eleven day man hunt she was found to be at
a fellow inmates home, with the inmate's husband. She was found less than
a mile from the Oregon Women's Correctional Center.
The prison superintendent at the time stated "She bolted prior to a
planned infusion of extra staffing, designed to provide better
supervision of inmates in the prison recreation yard. She had
it planned. She knew she was going to do it. In fact, she wanted
to do it before we got the yard staffed. She knew it was her best
A prison hearings officer recommended that Downs spend up to three years
in segregated quarters for escaping.

Downs was transported to the Edna Mahan, high-maximum Correctional
Institution at Clinton, New Jersey. During her time there Downs made
two escape attempts.
Diane Downs and her "fiance" planned an armed escape. The plan
included smuggling a gun into prison and the taking of one or more

1991 - Downs lost her bid for a new trial, claiming ineffective counsel
not only at her trial, but at her appeals. The ruling was that "her
lawyers exercised valid judgments and she failed to prove her claims."
The ruling leaves her with the right to appeal to the Oregon Court of
Appeals. Downs had briefly been returned to Oregon for the hearing.
1991 - August - Downs was transferred from the Oregon Women's
Correctional Center in Salem, Oregon to the prison for women at Purdy,
Pierce County, Washington. Downs was transferred to the prison's
maximum security unit at Gig Harbor by virtue of her prior escape and
escape attempts.

In addition to Downs' escape from the Oregon women's in 1987, she had also
made two escape attempts while incarcerated at a New Jersey prison.
Downs is viewed to be a continuing security threat and was housed in
segregation, spending 23 out of 24 hours in her cell, and when out of her
cell she was restrained." Downs was to remain at Purdy "indefinitely."
A search of Down's cell by Corrections officers turned up a partially sewn
garment that was being modified to resemble the uniforms worn by the
prison guards. Downs denied an escape attempt, stating that the
only time she would attempt to escape would be when her appeals
were exhausted.

1993 - Downs was returned to the state Women's Correctional Center in
Oregon for the duration of a construction project at the Washington state
prison where she had been held since 1991.

1993 - Downs filed a Federal lawsuit against the Oregon State Prison
Officials. because the state refused to allow any visits because the
administrative rules prohibit any contact between an inmate and
her victim. Downs claimed that her daughter Christie had reached the
legal age of being able to act on her own and wanted to visit her.
According to Author Anne Rule "Neither child chose to maintain
communication with Downs, aside from a brief visit shortly after Christie
turned 18."

1994 - June - Downs is transported to Valley State at Chowchilla, California.
Downs was the sole occupant of a cell in which the cement supporting the
window frame had been chipped away in an eight inch section in order to
dislodge and separate the window from the building.
1995 - Downs lost a technical appeal. Downs filed an appeal claiming that she
is "illegally" imprisoned and that the order for her to pay restitution was
adopted after she had appealed her convictions. Her argument was that the
sentencing court had lost jurisdiction due to the appeal, so the final judgement
in the case was flawed.

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld, without comment, the Marion County
Circuit Court's dismissal of Downs' claim.

1996 - Downs filed a 6-inch-thick appeal in Federal court asking to be
released from her life term - plus 50 years.

2000 - Downs filed an appeal claiming her rights were violated because
some investigation notes by a sheriff's deputy that might have produced
evidence favorable to her were not turned over to her defense.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her claim ruling her
arguments were speculative and that prosecutors don't have to disclose
investigatory material that hasn't led to evidence which could help a

2005 - Downs 12th court challenge was thrown out without comment by
the Appeals court. Downs had challenged her sentence stating it did not
comply with a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling dealing with sentencing
Even behind bars Diane Downs considers herself a hottie and more
sexually conversant than "normal" women.

Christie Hugi testifed against her mother and as an adult has become
a social worker. Her brother Danny Hugi remains works as a computer

Author Anne Rule profiled this case in her book: "Small Sacrifices"
To see more photos and information explore the CMM Forum