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MailTribune.com
  • Single charge dropped from test-drive case

    Eagle Point man still faces multiple counts
  • Aggravated attempted murder charges have been dropped against an Eagle Point resident who allegedly shot a Medford car salesman last year when the two stopped in a church parking lot during a test-drive of a Ford Mustang.
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  • Aggravated attempted murder charges have been dropped against an Eagle Point resident who allegedly shot a Medford car salesman last year when the two stopped in a church parking lot during a test-drive of a Ford Mustang.
    But Clayton Emil Huff, 51, is not off the hook.
    Huff remains charged with attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree attempted kidnapping and attempt to elude police in a vehicle for his actions related to the February 2010 shooting of Robert Joe Johnson.
    Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston said Huff's case was taken back to the grand jury on Wednesday, where the attempted aggravated charge was removed.
    "The reason we did this was because we believe it will make the case easier to prove," Huddleston said. "And we think we can get just as much prison time with the remaining charges."
    Huff has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remains in the Jackson County Jail on $3 million bail.
    The attempted murder charge carries a mandatory-minimum 10-year prison sentence. The assault and robbery charges each carry sentences of seven years, six months.
    Police say Johnson, 33, who was just two weeks into a job selling cars for Lithia Toyota in Medford, was shot on Feb. 27, 2010, during a test drive of a Mustang.
    Johnson, who was driving, pulled into the First Church of the Nazarene parking lot on East McAndrews Road to let the customer, Huff, drive. Huff allegedly pulled a gun and ordered Johnson to get in the car's trunk. Johnson refused and was shot in the abdomen during the ensuing struggle.
    Passersby who heard the gunshot and witnessed the fight called police, who rushed to the scene to find Johnson sprawled on the blacktop. Huff then led police on a high-speed chase through east Medford that ended in a crash on a rural road outside Eagle Point.
    Johnson underwent surgery at a Medford hospital and was released March 2, 2010. Police have struggled to find a motive for the shooting.
    Huff's case was slated for trial in May, August and November in 2010 and again in February of this year. Each trial date has come and gone, and Huff has repeatedly requested new court-appointed attorneys.
    A new trial date has been set for April 12, said Huff's current attorney, Laurence Parker.
    Reach Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.
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