Men who restrained burglar won't be charged in his death

Employee and his father restrained a man who had broken into a woodworking business

GRANTS PASS — Citizens who subdued an alleged burglar who likely died of asphyxiation will not be charged, the Josephine County District Attorney's Office announced Monday.

Jasen Robert Lewis, age 33, died Jan. 21 at Innovative Woodworx at 2245 Harbeck Road after an employee arriving at work and his father found him allegedly removing property from the business.

Police said Lewis charged the men, who took him to the ground and restrained him while the men waited for law enforcement to respond.

Lewis stopped breathing before police arrived. The citizens called 911 to request emergency medical help. Lewis died on the scene, the District Attorney's Office said.

"The citizens that subdued Mr. Lewis acted appropriately within the parameters of Oregon law," the District Attorney's Office said in a statement, adding that no charges would be filed against the men.

Oregon law allows the owners of property to use reasonable force to prevent theft or damage to their property, or to arrest a person for a crime committed in their presence.

Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson conducted an autopsy, which revealed no abnormal injuries to Lewis.

Olson determined the probable cause of death to be positional asphyxia due to restraint. He determined the death was accidental.

Analysis of Lewis' urine and blood revealed the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, 6-monocetylmorphine, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, oxymorphone and noroxycodone.

An accomplice of Lewis, Robert Wendover, age 36, escaped but was arrested several days later. In March, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail, the Associated Press reported.

On the same day as Lewis' death, thousands of dollars' worth of tools and equipment taken from Innovative Woodworx were found during a drug bust on Cloverlawn Drive in Grants Pass.

Authorities arrested four people and seized heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, guns, stolen ATVs and other property, the Associated Press reported.

Lewis had 2009 and 2011 convictions for driving under the influence of intoxicants and had been arrested for possession of methamphetamine in December. He had been released from jail pending sentencing on Jan. 13 but failed to show up in court, according to court records.

Before his troubles with the law, Lewis played football and was a wrestler for Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction. He was featured in a newspaper article for rushing 100 yards in a football game.

Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at

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