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Medford student gets jail, probation for gun

The father of an 18-year-old student who brought a loaded .38-caliber revolver to Central Medford High School described his adopted son's troubled past at the teen's sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Jacob Semion Davis, who faced a possible six years in prison, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to a single felony charge of possession of a firearm in a public building. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Davis was given 30-days in jail and three years of supervised probation by Judge Tim Barnack.

Barnack also ruled Davis' misdemeanor charge of possession of a firearm would be dismissed. If Davis successfully completes his probation period, his felony conviction would be reduced to a misdemeanor, Barnack said.

"I'm not buying some choirboy routine," Barnack said. "This is the scariest thing. School is supposed to be a safe haven."

Derek Davis said he and his wife adopted Jacob Semion Davis and his younger brother from Russia eight years ago. He asked for leniency in the sentencing guidelines so that his son could remain eligible to join the military.

(Correction: The spelling of Derek Davis' name has been corrected throughout this story.)

"Jake needs someone to talk to," he said. "Someone to kick him in the butt."

While attempting to defend the troubled adolescent, Derek Davis said his son had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior at an early age and had been a straight-A student at St. Mary's school.

But he closed by saying the teen had not lived at their home since he had attacked his father after being chastised for using "bad words."

"He beat me for 20 to 25 seconds," Derek Davis said, adding he did not retaliate.

The military would provide a structured environment, Davis said, and, if necessary, its own form of punishment — the brig.

"We don't want Jake to be a parasite on society anymore," Derek Davis said.

Police said Davis told them he'd found the gun and showed the stolen black Charter Arms revolver to other students in an attempt to sell it. He didn't threaten any students or teachers with the weapon, they said.

Jacob Davis said in court he brought the weapon to school only to return it to its original owner after being told by a friend he was staying with that the friend's father had a felony record and no weapons were allowed in the home.

"I panicked," he said. "I told (the police) a quick story. They brought me into a room and locked (the door). I didn't know what to say."

The former South Medford High School campus on Oakdale Avenue hosts Central, a Medford School District alternative high school of more than 200 pupils, and two small programs for students with disabilities, called STEPS and STEPS Plus that are operated by the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

Some of Central's students have a history of disciplinary, emotional, drug or alcohol problems. Others attend because they are behind in school or simply prefer the smaller class sizes and accommodations for different learning styles.

Jacob Davis said it was his first day at the school. When he went out to smoke after third period, someone must have seen the gun when he was digging in his backpack for his cigarettes, Davis said.

"I can only imagine if that gun had gone off by your hand or by anybody else's," said Barnack. "What if someone else had gotten ahold of that gun? Then what?"

The unnamed student reported Davis to a school staff member and Principal Guy Tutland reported the incident to police. A campus school resource officer, along with back-up, responded to the report and arrested Davis while he was in a weight-lifting class. A school lockdown wasn't necessary, as the gun was inside a backpack that was separated from Davis at the time officers were called.

Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long informed Medford School Board members and Southern Oregon ESD officials of the event the day it happened. Long said he chose not to tell parents because the incident was quickly resolved and he had concerns about breaching student confidentiality.

Updated Derek Davis and his wife, Jennifer, also were featured in the Mail Tribune on Wednesday for their battle with Jackson County officials over the commercial rental of their rural property, Life is Good Ranch, in a woodland resource zone near Wimer.

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