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Plea deal in baseball bat killing considered

Family members of a Central Point man who was beaten to death with a baseball bat last summer say they are mulling whether to support negotiating a plea to a lesser charge for his accused killer.

The parents of victim Donald Burton Crowley said Friday they have until Monday to decide whether to endorse a plea offer of second-degree manslaughter and a 100-month prison sentence for Brett Christian Adams.

Adams, 23, remained in the Jackson County Jail Friday while awaiting a Jan. 14 trial on a first-degree manslaughter charge. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years under Oregon's Measure 11 sentencing law.

Crowley's mother, Katherine Dean, said she and others met with prosecutors Friday afternoon in Medford, where the family was asked to accept endorsing a plea offer of second-degree manslaughter.

Under Measure 11, second-degree manslaughter carries a 75-month minimum sentence.

Dean said prosecutors were prepared to offer Adams a minimum sentence of 100 months, or eight years and four months in prison.

Family members in the past have wanted Adams indicted on murder charges and have not endorsed a plea agreement, Dean said. They have a Monday deadline for their answer to prosecutors, who indicated they would go to trial if the family did not support the offer, she said.

"We haven't accepted anything yet," Dean said. "I don't know what to do."

She said prosecutors cited difficulties with locating witnesses as one of the reasons for the plea offer.

Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston acknowledged that prosecutors had a Friday meeting with Dean.

"We talked to her about a possible negotiated settlement," Huddleston said. "I can't comment on any specifics."

Michael Bertholf, Adams' court-appointed attorney, said he has offered prosecutors an agreement for Adams to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter and accept the mandatory minimum of 75 months, which translates into six years and three months in prison.

Bertholf said he did not know whether Adams would accept a 100-month sentence.

"I haven't had a chance to discuss that with Mr. Adams," Bertholf said. "It's not been offered yet."

Adams is accused of attacking Crowley with an aluminum baseball bat July 31 during an argument at Crowley's home in the 200 block of North Eighth Street in Central Point.

Crowley lost consciousness and died Aug. 8 after more than a week in the hospital. He was 29.

Adams remained jailed in lieu of $200,000 bail.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Plea deal in baseball bat killing considered