Washington Co. District Attorney's Office

HILLSBORO, Ore- On August 23, 2023, a Washington County jury found Chad Brandon Pitcher guilty of Manslaughter in the First Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lesowski and Deputy District Attorney Nadya Martin prosecuted Mr. Pitcher before Judge Janelle Wipper. 

The defendant was originally convicted in 2019. However, the jury returned non-unanimous verdicts on two of the original three counts. The case had to be retried after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana that non-unanimous verdicts in state trials for serious criminal offenses violated the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

The defendant targeted the victim, Reiner Schmolling, after he learned he stole his vehicle. On September 19, 2017, Mr. Pitcher and Christopher Jay Stephens, a co-defendant in the original trial, drove to a rural area outside North Plains, Oregon, and confronted Mr. Schmolling. Both men were armed with handguns. Mr. Pitcher then shot the victim once in the chest. The victim died at the scene. 

The defendant left the area in his vehicle but abandoned it a short while later after it ran out of gas. Information found in the car helped investigators identify Mr. Pitcher as a suspect. Mr. Stephens was identified as an accomplice in the crime. 

On September 28, 2017, Mr. Stephens was arrested by members of the Washington County Major Crimes Team. He confessed to driving Mr. Pitcher to the crime scene and admitted he fired one round from his own handgun. Mr. Pitcher remained a fugitive for several weeks. He was tracked to Wilsonville, Oregon by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and was arrested on October 8, 2017, after jumping from a second-story apartment balcony.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office acknowledges the work of the Washington County Major Crimes Team and the U.S. Marshals Service on this case. 

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 1, 2023.