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Convicted Tualatin murderer wants federal court to set him free

Convicted murderer Ivar Voits has asked a federal court to overturn his conviction for the January 1999 shooting death of his wife in their Tualatin home.

Voits, a prisoner at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, filed a 15-page 'habeas corpus' petition Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court seeking to reverse his murder conviction and allow him to go free.

No court date has been set for the petition. The filing could be a last-ditch effort by Voits to overturn his August 2000 conviction for murder. Voits' appeals to reverse the conviction have been turned down in the past five years by Washington County Circuit Court, the state Court of Appeals, Oregon's Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

A habeas corpus petition can be filed by people in custody demanding to be brought before a court to determine if their detention is improper. Voits' filing was done on printed forms that he filled with neatly handwritten answers to legal questions.

Voits was sentenced in June 2001 to life in prison for the murder of Monika Voits, who was found shot twice in the head Jan. 2, 1999, while she lay on her bed. Her two sons were in their rooms down the hall. Ivar Voits claimed he did not hear the gunshots or find anything out of order when he went to bed that night.

In his several appeals, Voits claimed that his attorney did not provide an adequate defense and that he was not allowed to present several pieces of evidence that would have cleared him of the crime.

Voits also has claimed that his conviction was unconstitutional because of 'blatant and indiscriminately admitted statements made by a non-testifying witness, creating a trial by hearsay.'

Voits said his right to due process was violated, 'ensuring his conviction by the state's wanton use of bogus 'evidence.' '

'Petitioner is actually innocent under Oregon law,' wrote Voits in his federal court petition. 'No reasonable juror would convict petitioner of murder if they had heard all available evidence, including evidence that developed subsequently to his trial and was not presented to the jury.'

Voits had until December to file what could be his last attempt to overturn the conviction.