Liysa Northon

What was the plea bargain?

Liysa plead guilty to Felony Murder. (pg 331)

The plea bargain was for Manslaughter with Extreme Emotional disturbance. Manslaughter can only have been committed under extreme emotional disturbance if the disturbance IS NOT a result of the person's own intentional knowing, reckless or criminally negligent act., and there must be a “reasonable explanation for the disturbance.” The reasonableness of this disturbance must be determined from the standpoint of an ordinary person in the situation and that the actor reasonably believed the circumstances which incited the extreme emotion to have actually existed. CHRIS NORTHONS BATTERING WAS THE CONDITION WHICH RENDERED LIYSA NORTHONS ACTIONS “EXTREME EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE” Ann Rule's repeated omission of this fact and her falsifying the actual sentence by claiming that Liysa had committed a felony murder is a gross distortion of the facts.

Liysa was coerced into taking the plea bargain against her will due to the fact that her attorney said on the record that she did not have the funds to resubpoena all of the witnesses. Her attorney had failed to secure the expert witness he claimed to have hired (Laurie Bender's affidavit) Several witnesses hear her attorney threaten her with walking off the case unless she took the plea. When that did not work, her attorney then threatened her with the prosecution of her friends and family.

Mackeson explained the Alford Plea. And “was up and down the stairs all night.” (pg 330-331)

There was no mention of an Alford Plea. Liysa refused to take the Plea, and Mackeson left at 9:00. They gave instructions to the guard NOT to let Liysa use the phone. In the morning they asked if she had changed her mind. She said No, and Birmingham went to negotiate anyway, against her wishes. Mackeson stayed to badger her. But let's be clear. Liysa had not given Birmingham permission to negotiate a plea bargain. He entered into negotiations without her permission. Everyone within hearing distance can verify that Birmingham threatened Liysa that he would walk off the case and leave her without representation for the remainder of the trial. Laurie Bender's affidavit makes clear that Birmingham had a conflict of interest and rather than acting in his client's bet interests, he sold her out.

Liysa changed her plea, faced with evidence of premeditation. AND Liysa was lucky her lawyers were able to negotiate a plea bargain (pg 370)

Liysa did not want to change her plea. Her attorney said he would walk off in the middle of the trial because he had failed to prepare. She was NOT “faced with evidence of premeditation. Lisya's friends had frequently made these type of comments. Liysa was coerced into taking the plea bargain against her will. Her attorney failed to secure the expert witness who would have easily deflected the negative connotation of the one venting email. Due to the draconian mandatory minimum sentences, many many people take plea bargains to avoid spending their entire lives in prison in the event of an unfavorable verdict. Statistically, once a DA charges someone, the chances for an aquittal are less than ten percent. Logically, the majority of innocent people who are charged are so disturbed at the failure of the justice system to even have them in custody when they know thy are innocent, that they don't want to throw the remainder of their lives away by counting on what has already proven to be a corrupt and unjust system.


MAKESON: “Judge, the –all this new information with respect to the computer, I think it presents an extremely complex situation both factually and legally because there's a number of related issues here. We had a umber of pretrial motions including the motion to admit expert testimony on the pattern, practice, and history of abuse..but the point is that the defense made a number of decisions based on a ruling of this court..”

BIRMINGHAM: (PG 448) “And your honor, the other point I'd like to make is as I indicated at the pretrial hearing, the defense did not ask for a setover. And we really needed one in order to provide effective assistance of counsel, but we gave up getting potentially exculpatory witnesses because we couldn't AFFORD to set the case over. Ms. Northon has limited resources. And I think we've spent most everything that we have available for the defense. If this case is set over, I don't think Ms. Northon has the funds to re-subpoena people.”


(in support of motion to seal Birmingham's materially false affidavit.): (

“Ms. Northon was forced to waive her constitutional right to a jury trial, her right to present a defense to the charge against her as was forced to enter a plea to a lesser included offense as a result of the unlawful conduct of the government and the disclosure of confidential and privileged communication.”

and “Pat Birmingham was faced with an ethical dilemma and a conflict of interest. He chose to force his client into a plea bargain rather than make his situation public.”

“Pat Birmingham was paid a substantial flat fee, and rather than face a set-over he insisted that his client take a plea bargain.


“I was in the DA's office and one of the ladies who works for the Da told us that Liysa's lawyer said he would walk off the case and leave her without representation unless she took the plea bargain.”


When we hired Mr. Birmingham we asked him to hire a local co-counsel form Union County. He agreed , then never hired anyone local. He told us he was going to hire a Battered woman expert, Mary Ann Dutton. He never hired him. Birmingham said he would sit down with members of the family to discuss strategy for her defense, outside of a brief meeting before the bail hearing he did not do this. Nearly all of his discussions with us were on the phone and focused on the specific item of money. In March 2001 Birmingham called our home in Texas and asked me to call back from a phone other than ours. He felt that our telephones might be tapped. ...Whenever the subject of how much money was left in Liysa's account came up, the amount would change day to day and almost hour by hour. On July 17th 2001 AFTER court, he asked permission to hire Wayne Mackinson. I asked how much money was left in Liysa's account. He said “$75,000-$80,000.” He said it would cost $25,000 to hire Mackinson, but it was well worth it.” The trial ended (with the forced plea)two days later. Since the defense had actually only lined up ONE expert witness (the ballistic exper,t) what happened to the rest of the money?

Regarding the events just prior to Liysa accepting the plea I was the only family member allowed to see her and I was told I needed to persuade her to accept the plea. I felt horrendous pressure. Mr. Birmingham was pressing Liysa hard. He said in the presence of Liysa, Wayne and myself that “He was not going to lose his license because of Liysa”

Liysa did not want to take the plea. Mr. Birmingham was angry and frustrated with her, which was very intimidating, particularly for someone suffering the effects of an abusive relationship.

In early August, The Northons filed for custody of Liysa's youngest son and we needed the remainder of Liysa's money in order to fight the custody suit. Mr. Birmingham sent us only $14,000.


I was told (by UCCF STAFF) that DA Ousley, in the presence of Birmingham, threatened Northon with the arrest, incarceration and public exposure of her father if she did not accept a plea bargain.

I was told that Birmingham informed Northon that unless she accepted the plea offer he would quit.

<< back



This site:





Liysa refutes
Ann Rule book:

Appellant BriefRebuttal

Liysa's essays:

My Children's First
Free Breath

Simple Questions
Children Ask

Yoga on the Inside

a Misdemeanor?


Voices Set Free

Battered Woman's Syndrome

National Clearinghouse for Defense of Battered Women

Liysa's Photography

Getty Images work

Getty Images

Design Pics work

Design Pics

Pisces Pics work

Pisces Pics

Media Center

Seattle Weekly


Wallowa County Chieftain


The Sunday Oregonian


What would
Ghandi have done?

WCJNMahatma Ghandi, whose known as the father of non-violence, when asked if faced with a situation of protecting a loved one with violence or remaining passive he said without hesitation you must us violence to protect a loved one because cowardice and standing idly by is a far greater sin than protecting what you love.



All rights reserved. Materials on this website may not be used without written consent.
Copyright 2008 by Liysa King Northon, who is totally responsible for its content.