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Guardsmen face multiple charges for bias attacks

Two National Guard members could together face more than 25 years in prison if convicted of hate crimes.

A Jackson County grand jury Tuesday indicted Andrew Lee Patterson and Aaron Andrew St. James on charges related to a series of attacks designed to clean up Medford, investigators said.

Patterson, 23, of Eagle Point was charged with first-degree assault, kidnapping, burglary and intimidation; third- and fourth-degree assault; and two counts of second-degree assault.

St. James, 26, of Medford, was charged with second-, third- and fourth-degree assault; first-degree burglary; and first-degree intimidation.

If convicted, both men face prison terms under Measure 11 sentencing guidelines. Patterson's sentence could be a minimum of 20 years for charges of first- and second-degree assault and kidnapping alone. St. James would serve at least five years and 10 months if convicted of second-degree assault.

Patterson and St. James are accused of beating a homeless man last week. Along with their friend and fellow Guard member, 21-year-old Chadwick James Ritchie, the duo then attacked a Medford motel owner who they believed was an Arab, police said. After the attacks, Ritchie ran from the motel to the parking lot of Shari's restaurant on Stewart Avenue and killed himself.

The attacks were the most recent in a string of hate crimes last month, investigators said. They also tied Ritchie and Patterson to the reported beatings of another homeless man on Jan. 10 and Jan. 14.

They said he was a disgrace to his race as they beat him, said Medford police Lt. Mike Moran.

Charges were filed against Patterson in the later incident, including the kidnapping count, which stems from evidence that he and Ritchie dragged the homeless man across Biddle Road and down an embankment where passing cars would not see them beating the man with a wooden baseball bat, Moran said.

Ritchie and Patterson had sneaked up on the man, grabbed him from behind and told him to cross the street or he'd pay, Moran said. They threatened to kill him for calling police about the previous attack, Moran added.

The homeless man told detectives that one of his attackers said, You ain't leaving tomorrow on a bus; you're leaving tonight in a casket.

Ritchie and Patterson were sent home in August from a peace-keeping mission in the Sinai after they set fire to a barracks, National Guard officials said. Patterson and Ritchie were ordered not to associate with each other.

Jackson County authorities are handling the case because the alleged crimes were not committed while the men were on duty, said National Guard Capt. Chet Cary. A military judge advocate general will take over if the men are convicted, Cary said.

Patterson and St. James remain in the Jackson County Jail on &

36;300,000 and &

36;100,000 bail, respectively. No court date has been set.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail .