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Guardsman pleads guilty to attacks

Guardsman pleads guilty to attacks

A National Guard member from Medford has pleaded guilty to assault and intimidation charges stemming from his involvement in January in what police characterized as hate crimes.

Medford police linked three Guard members to a string of racially motivated attacks on homeless men, black youths and a couple from India that month. On Jan. 30, officers arrested Andrew Lee Patterson, 23, of the 500 block of Shasta Avenue, Eagle Point, and Aaron Andrew St. James, 26, of the 900 block of Myers Lane, Medford. A third suspect, Chadwick James Ritchie, 21, of the 100 block of Ashland Avenue in Medford, committed suicide in a restaurant parking lot as police sought the trio.

St. James entered guilty pleas in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday to charges of third-degree assault and first-degree intimidation. In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped charges of second- and fourth-degree assault and first-degree burglary. St. James also agreed to testify at Patterson's trial, which is set to start July 22.

Prosecutors claimed St. James served as a lookout and aided in Jan. 30 attacks on a homeless man and an Indian couple who own the Sis-Q Motel.

— Police alleged that the three young men beat a homeless man around midnight, then attacked the motel owners, who they thought were of Arab descent. A motel guest heard a scuffle and called 911. When police arrived, they found St. James and Patterson waiting in the parking lot. Ritchie had fled and was found dead later in the parking lot of Shari's restaurant.

Police linked Patterson and Ritchie to repeated beatings in mid-January of a homeless man, who was hospitalized with his injuries, and an incident in which black youths were threatened and chased. St. James was deployed on a peacekeeping mission on the Sinai Peninsula and was out of the country then. Patterson and Ritchie were sent home early from that mission for setting fire to a barracks, Guard officials said.

St. James won't be sentenced until after Patterson's trial. He was released from jail on his own recognizance this week.

Patterson faces first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree assault charges, as well as charges of first-degree intimidation, first-degree kidnapping, and first-degree burglary. He remains jailed on &

36;300,000 bail. He asked this week for his bail to be reduced, but Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia denied the request.