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Inmate who solicited double homicide gets 3 years

A Central Point man who hatched a jailhouse plot to kill witnesses linking him to a shooting outside a Mexican restaurant last summer has pleaded guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit murder.

Raymond Ranal Williams, 25, was sentenced Thursday afternoon by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack. Per the plea agreement, Williams was sentenced to more than three years in prison for each count of solicitation to commit murder, plus three years' post-prison supervision. The sentences will run concurrently and no fines or fees were imposed.

"This is pretty serious stuff," said Barnack. "We don't tolerate this in Jackson County."

Following the shooting, Williams was held in the Jackson County Jail on $1 million bail. He promised to provide a fellow inmate, Jeffrey Kenton, with a gun and methamphetamine in exchange for killing Cody Goldate and Brandon Rauls, said Assistant Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton.

Kenton, who was being held on a probation violation, helped build the case against Williams by wearing a wire and recording their conversations, Smith-Norton said.

Investigators linked Williams and Julius Anthony Branner, 21, to an argument that escalated into gunfire at about 3 a.m. on July 30 outside the Muchas Gracias restaurant at 2305 W. Main St., Medford.

Smith-Norton said Thursday that the original charges of attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon have been dropped against Williams as part of the plea agreement, she said.

Branner and Williams pointed fingers at each other in the case. Rauls and Jason Garron were the two intended victims. Goldate was a witness, she said.

After a verbal altercation occurred at the drive-through area of Muchas Gracias, it was Branner who got a gun out of the trunk of a white sedan and fired the shots that caused minimal damage and injured no one, Smith-Norton said.

Branner is expected to plead guilty to charges related to the July shooting case at a hearing next week, said Williams' public defender, Michael Bertholf.

Bertholf said the early-morning altercation appeared to be "alcohol fueled." His client is ready to "start growing up, and ready to start accepting responsibility for his actions," Bertholf said.

Barnack told Williams he had come close to ruining his entire life. If Kenton had acted on his murder solicitation, or if someone had been killed during the shooting, either accidently or on purpose, "the rest of your life would be done," Barnack said.

"Don't get with the wrong crowd up there in the pen," he said. "Mr. Bertholf believes in you. Don't let him down."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Inmate who solicited double homicide gets 3 years