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Ex-Marine draws prison term for fatal hit-and-run

An Ashland man has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison for the September hit-and-run death of a pedestrian on Valley View Road.

Ryan Dean Rackley, 25, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the death of 20-year-old Anthony James Waldron of San Diego. Circuit Court Judge Ray White ordered Rackley to spend five years and 10 months in prison. However, as much as a year and two months could be taken off his sentence for good behavior.

Rackley had been drinking at three different Ashland bars on Sept. 15 before he drove his car several feet over the fog line of Valley View, striking Waldron, said Tim Barnack, deputy district attorney for Jackson County. Waldron died of head injuries the next day at Rogue Valley Medical Center. He had been living with a friend for about a month at the Jackson Wellsprings campground off Highway 99.

The white sedan that hit Waldron sped away from the 10:20 p.m. crash scene and was found a day later at Rackley's Carter Lane residence. The car's passenger side had been damaged, and the windshield was cracked, investigators said.

Rackley had reported the theft of his white 1996 Honda Civic to Ashland police, arousing detectives' suspicions. Rackley was arrested more than a week after the collision and spent about two months in jail before he was released on bail.

— I think of you as a thief, said Waldron's aunt, Sherrill van Hook of San Diego. A thief in the night who came along and robbed the most precious possessions of my nephew.

That drink is not worth it.

Rackley apologized to Waldron's family before hearing his sentence.

It was the worst night of my life ... and it wasn't worth it, he said.

A former Marine who took part in reconnaissance missions in Baghdad, Rackley was arrested previously for driving under the influence. He completed a yearlong diversion program in 1998, resulting in the dismissal of that case.

... I would have thought you would have learned from your mistake, sobbed Waldron's mother, Dana Waldron, of San Diego.

With his plea of no contest, Rackley admitted prosecutors could have proven his guilt, said defense attorney Whitney Boise. Pleas of no contest and guilty carry the same legal effect.

White also ordered Rackley to pay &

36;20,493 in restitution. His driver's license will be revoked for eight years upon his release from prison.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail Ex-Marine draws prison term for fatal hit-and-run"slemon@mailtribune.com.