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Chancler gets 30 months for abuse

A Central Point man's history of abusing women has earned him a 30-month sentence in state prison.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Tim Barnack sentenced Brett Wayne Chancler, 45, on felony charges of fourth-degree assault and coercion. Chancler also was found guilty on a harassment charge, a misdemeanor, which did not add to his prison time. Chancler also was sentenced to two years of post-prison supervision and must pay $630 in restitution to the victim, Barnack ordered.

Chancler deserved a stiff sentence because he is a serial abuser, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Laura Cromwell. She noted it was his fourth domestic violence conviction and his third female victim

The victim did not attend Monday's sentencing because her father is terminally ill, Cromwell said. But the woman testified at last week's one-day trial, describing how on June 29-30 Chancler trapped her in a room inside his home on Table Rock Road and refused to let her leave, beating her over the course of the weekend.

"She wanted to stop this from happening to other women," Cromwell said.

The victim has a history of being abused by men. Her back was broken in a prior relationship; she'd just ended another abusive relationship and was homeless when she connected with Chancler, Cromwell said.

"He said he'd care for her," Cromwell said, adding Chancler began beating her just one month later.

Chancler eventually fell asleep while the woman was being held in the room, enabling her to call 911. She made the call from behind a pillow because she feared Chancler would hear her, Cromwell said.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies were able to trace the cellphone call after the woman hung up. They rushed to the house and forced their way inside.

The woman told the deputies she had been trapped in the room for two days and assaulted by Chancler. He denied anything had occurred. But overturned tables and broken glass in the home indicated there had been a struggle.

Cromwell looked into Chancler's past and found that he had a history of abusing women. His three previous domestic violence convictions involving different women allowed Cromwell to charge him with felony assault in the current case.

Chancler also had previous convictions for resisting arrest and felony counts of failure to pay child support, she said. Court records show he has had numerous restraining orders placed against him by various women.

Chancler's attorney, Michael Bertholf, a former prosecutor, said he'd known his client for many years and had represented the state against Chancler on child support issues. But he said he believed Chancler was "in the process of changing his life around" and asked Barnack to allow Chancler to be eligible for prison programs.

When Chancler stood to speak, he stated he could "use some help."

"People need to be accountable," Chancler said, while asking for "mercy" from the court.

Chancler then offered a mumbling litany of complaints about Bertholf. The public defender had not disclosed he'd ever been on the other side of the legal fence, Chancler said. He also complained he was not offered an attractive plea bargain deal by Cromwell.

"These things usually get pled out," Chancler said.

A plea agreement had been offered, Cromwell said, "and it included prison time."

Barnack defended Bertholf, noting he himself had been both a prosecutor and defense attorney before being elected to the bench.

"He's won cases I didn't think he should have won," Barnack said.

Barnack reminded Chancler that he had chosen not to testify in his own defense at trial. Explaining that Cromwell had no choice but to ask for prison time, Barnack said Chancler's record had simply caught up with him.

"I'm sure some judge along the way told you you'd end up in prison if you kept this up," Barnack said. "Well, here we are. I hope you turn your life around."

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

Chancler gets 30 months for abuse