The clemency board denied Link's request, the final decision is in the hands of Governor Gregoire.
Lonnie Link's hearing will be held on March 11th.
On July 18 1983, Spokane Police Officer Brian Orchard left for work and Orchard’s workday was pretty much like any other day at the office; however, Orchard's 'office' was not a stylish sixth floor suite with a view of Riverfront Park. Orchard’s 'office' was the slimy under belly of lurid crime and filthy criminals, and on that day in late July, Brian Orchard did not get to come home from his ‘office’ as he had every day for 15 years. On that day, Brian Orchard became the first Spokane Police officer killed in the line of duty since 1929.
Career criminal Lonnie Link snuffed Orchard’s life like a candle. Link was on parole in Montana at the time and was due to go to trial for a Possession of Stolen Property charge in Spokane County two weeks from the time he shot Officer Orchard.
In early June of 1983, Lonnie Link and his partner in crime Donald Beach were in Wenatchee and carried out the home invasion robbery of Robert Adolphi, an antique gun collector. They robbed Adolphi and his wife of over $40,000 in guns and precious gems and metal. Link intended to sell the stolen goods, but ran into difficulty, so the decision was made to sell them back to Adolphi.
Once learning the sale would be occurring in Spokane, Wenatchee detectives investigating the theft contacted the Spokane Police department to investigate an extortion plot involving the stolen guns in exchange for $20,000.
The night of Officer Orchard’s murder, Donald Beach was about a block away meeting with Adolphi for the money. Detectives staked out the area; Orchard approached a Lincoln Continental occupied by Lonnie Link. Link shot Officer Orchard in the head and then fled the scene amid a hail of gunfire. Police apprehended Link two days later in a Portland, Oregon phone booth.
A jury found Link and Beach guilty and they each received life without the possibility of parole. For whatever reason, Link’s deplorable soul was spared because the murder of Brian Orchard would have surely made Link “death sentence eligible”.
This year Lonnie Link petitioned Washington State to release him. Link believes 26 years has been long enough to spend behind bars although he killed a police officer. In 1996, Link petitioned Governor Mike Lowry for clemency and was denied.
Link’s new approach is that he never intended to kill Brian Orchard. He claims he did not know Orchard was a police officer despite statements to the contrary Link gave to Portland police after he was apprehended in Oregon in 1983.
Link stresses he thought the person who approached his vehicle that night was Alvin Hegge the former president of the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club. Link claims he was denied the opportunity to explain to his jury 26 years ago the fatal shooting was a case of mistaken identity. Link asserts Hegge supposedly told Link that if he testified about Ghost Rider involvement in the Adolphi robbery Hegge would have Link killed in prison.
The Hegge death threat didn’t seem to stop Link from working with prosecutors to build a case around Hegge. After his conviction, Link worked with prosecutors and told Spokane County Prosecutor Don Brockett that Hegge hired Link and Beach to pull off the Adolphi robbery including several other armed robberies and burglaries throughout Eastern Washington.
Brockett eventually charged Alvin Hegge with the 2nd Degree Murder of Brian Orchard, and extradited Hegge from a Wisconsin prison where he had began a life sentence of first degree murder. Hegge’s Spokane County trial became known as one of the most expensive and ‘entertaining’ trials in Spokane County history.
Link and Beach became “key prosecution witnesses” against Hegge and other Ghost Riders during a 1985 trial in which they testified that they were hired by Hegge to rob a home in Bloomington, Indiana in June of 1983.
In exchange for their testimony against Hegge, both Beach and Link were enrolled in the witness protection program. The two were allowed to serve their sentences out of state. Their families each received $1500.00 to relocate near the prison where they did their time. Link was granted immunity for about 10 felonies in exchange for his testimony against Alvin Hegge.
We have learned far too well over the past 10 days what happens to our citizens after a governor signs the commutation of a repeat offender, just ask the friends and family of four brave fallen Lakewood Police officers.