A Medford teen was sentenced Monday to five years in custody after he joined four other young men in a home invasion robbery to steal cocaine and Xanax, a medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
The group believed another teen in the residence was dealing the drugs, according to court testimony.
Alfonso Alejandro Kesler, 17, of the 1900 block of Ross Lane, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and three counts of second-degree burglary. He was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority, which can keep youth offenders up to age 25.
Kesler's defense attorney, Donald Scales, said Kesler made a horrible decision to take part in the scheme.
"It boggles my mind how ill-conceived this whole venture was," Scales said.
He said the young men, who ranged in age from 17 to 20, seemed to think they could just barge into the home and the drugs would be right there for the taking.
Scales said the situation could have turned out much worse.
Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said the five co-defendants got together at a Motel 6 and plotted to go to the home of a teen and rob him. The teen, his mother and a 12-year-old were in the home.
Anthony Michael Moreno, who was 18 at the time of the January robbery and is now 19, had a fake gun, which he used to strike the mother, blackening her eyes, Markiewicz said.
Moreno has received the stiffest sentence of the five so far — eight years, according to court records.
The young men found no drugs, so they stole a PlayStation, an iPhone, a baseball bat and shoes, Markiewicz said.
One of the co-defendants was later pulled over and images of some of the items were captured on the police officer's body camera. Police developed information about the suspects. Kesler came into custody and was cooperative with police, Markiewicz said.
"He is very impressionable. He probably went along with these guys," Markiewicz said.
Scales said Kesler is intelligent, a gifted athlete and one of the most respectful and polite clients he has ever represented.
Scales said Kesler had a bad start in life, with neither of his parents involved with him, but he was being cared for by a wonderful adoptive mother. Scales said the young men in the case had become involved with a local gang.
Kesler said his biological parents were everything he didn't want to be, but he found himself starting to become like them.
"I'm not happy with myself at all," he said. "I'm going to use this as an opportunity to make myself a better person."
Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Barnack urged Kesler to take advantage of his time in custody and complete his high school diploma, then get a job after his release.
Barnack said he sees many situations where young people realize their parents' bad behavior is wrong, but it still hasn't sunk in that the behavior is not normal.
"Normal life is not like that," Barnack said.
In addition to Kesler and Moreno, Christian Lamar Brice, 18, and Jabriel Aaquann Fleming, 20, have entered guilty pleas in the case. Brice is scheduled to be sentenced June 5. Fleming is scheduled to be sentenced June 26, according to court records.
The case against Alejandro Medina-Mello, 18, is still pending. His trial is scheduled for June 27-28 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.