Thursday, December 13, 2007

Brooke Wilberger: Suspect sentenced in another case, can now be extradited

Brooke's case finally seems to be moving ahead a bit; now if only she could be found!
Article from

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Last modified Tuesday, December 11, 2007 11:58 PM PST
DA works to move Wilberger
suspect to Oregon
Gazette-Times reporter
Sex offender sentenced to 18 years by New Mexico
Joel Patrick Courtney, the man indicted in the abduction and death of
Brooke Wilberger, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday on an unrelated
case in New Mexico.
But if Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson
has his way, Courtney, 41, will be returned to Oregon within 90 days.
focus is to bring him back to Benton County to face charges,” said Haroldson,
who was in Albuquerque on Tuesday to attend Courtney’s sentencing and to testify
if Courtney attempted to delay sentencing.
Courtney faces multiple charges here in connection with the 2004
kidnapping, rape and murder of Wilberger, a 19-year-old Brigham Young University
student from Veneta who was spending the summer after her freshman year of
college with her sister in Corvallis when she disappeared. Wilberger’s body has
never been found, but Courtney has been charged with aggravated murder,
kidnapping, rape and sodomy.
“The Wilbergers and the state of Oregon have waited a long time for
Courtney to face these charges,” Haroldson said
Courtney pleaded guilty in September to kidnapping and sexually assaulting
a University of New Mexico student in Albuquerque.
Although Haroldson said he is optimistic the extradition process will run
smoothly, it is not without potential delays.
Haroldson said he will submit a request today for a governor’s warrant to
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who would forward an extradition warrant to the
governor of New Mexico. Courtney could fight the extradition in a number of
“The main challenge I’d anticipate is a challenge to the governor’s
warrant,” Haroldson said. “There are more obscure things (Courtney) can do also.
… He can be cooperative or he can decide to fight it all the way.”
Extreme attempts to stall extradition can take up to a year, Haroldson
Haroldson’s expectation that Courtney will mount some challenge during the
extradition process is based on Courtney’s prior actions. While the New Mexico
case moved through the court system, Courtney at various points refused to
communicate with his attorney, refused to enter a plea and refused to respond to
a plea deal offered by the prosecutor — all apparent stalling tactics, Haroldson
said. Courtney waited until after jury selection had been completed, then agreed
to accept a plea bargain.
During sentencing on Tuesday, Courtney’s attorney filed a motion to
withdraw the guilty plea and then asked to withdraw from the case. Both motions
were denied.
The sentence handed down on Tuesday was for 18 years in prison and up to 20
years on parole.
An agreement between states, called an interstate compact, used to quickly
transfer a criminal defendant from one state to another, was one option for
Haroldson. However, he said he chose the formal extradition process for a
specific reason.
“Provisions in the statute (interstate compact) can create issues, with
regard to the prosecution, in death-penalty cases,” Haroldson said. “In this
case, I will be seeking the death penalty.”
Assuming the extradition goes through, there is no possibility that
Courtney would be allowed to serve his sentence in New Mexico before facing a
trial in Oregon, Haroldson said.
“The defendant has the right to a speedy trial,” Haroldson said. “If there
is a delay with the state, it may provide a basis for the criminal charges to be
dismissed. ... It is incumbent upon us in the D.A.’s office to have no
Haroldson said Benton County’s investigation of Courtney is ongoing.
“In certain respects, there is the criminal investigation, as related to
the charges, then the investigation in regard to finding the body of Brooke
Wilberger,” Haroldson said. “It’s certainly an important objective to find her

If you know anything about Brooke's disappearance, please call the Corvallis Police Department at (541) 766-3522 or the Portland FBI at (503) 224-4181.
You can print a poster of Brooke at

Photo of Brooke from her poster.

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