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Asbill gets life in bludgeoning murder of veteran

Travis Asbill Wednesday was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years for the bludgeoning death of a sleeping Medford man with a golf club in 2012.

A Jackson County Circuit Court jury issued a guilty verdict against Asbill, 31, after deliberating for about two hours following a five-day trial.

Prosecutor Karen Loomis asked Judge Lorenzo Mejia to recommend to the Department of Corrections that Asbill be kept in prison for the rest of his life, but Mejia refused.

On the opening day of the trial, Kiara Ward, 25, of Washington, testified she had been sitting in the living room of 54-year-old Donald William Mack just before 1 p.m. on June 3, 2012, when Asbill struck the sleeping Vietnam War veteran several times in the head with the club.

The attack continued until the head of the club broke off, prosecutors said.

"Not only was this act an unprovoked, violent, cruel act, he also did something very similar to a man in 2003. It just goes to show you Mr. Asbill is who he is and there isn't any changing his character ... he doesn't care about human life," Loomis said. "He is just such a high level of risk to society that he is one of the reasons we have prisons, and that is the appropriate place for him to stay."

In 2004, Asbill pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of 48-year-old Ronald Ragsdale and was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison. Asbill was released in May 2011 and was still under post-prison supervision when he killed Mack.

Mack's older sister, Jeri Swift, 58, addressed the court before Asbill's sentencing.

"I am asking that he be put away and never let out ... he may come back and do this again," she said. "Every time I see a golf club, I think of what my brother went through. ... He was the only family I had left ... you took that away."

Swift said she got rid of her golf clubs and has to avoid golf courses because of the thoughts they provoke concerning the death of her "baby brother."

"Don was a very caring and giving person," she said.

Addressing the court before being sentenced, Asbill called Mack's death "a tragic situation."

"I believe I am a good person, have a good heart," Asbill said.

Mejia expressed little hope that Asbill could become an acceptable and productive member of society if he is ever released from prison.

"This case I believe was drug-fueled. Everybody in that house, including the deceased, that's all they were doing, all the time," Mejia said.

Asbill's defense attorney Michael Bertholf said he plans to file an appeal in the case.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.