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White City teenager avoids jail for role in gang riot

A White City teenager will, for now, escape prison time for his role in a White City gang riot last month and for fracturing the skull of a man with a pipe last year.

Devon James Wright, 19, will serve three years' probation as part of plea deal on his two cases Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Wright pleaded guilty to the riot charge as well as altering a firearm's identification number and interfering with a police officer. Those charges stemmed from a May 7 incident in which shotgun pellets peppered a residence on the 8000 block of Hale Way, court records show.

Wright also pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault for a separate incident in July 2013 in which Wright fractured a man's skull with a pipe while he was lying on a sofa, authorities said.

In accepting the plea agreement worked out with the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ravassipour told Wright he would serve a 37-month prison sentence if his probation were revoked.

"Mr. Wright, you're getting a huge break today," Ravassipour told Wright, who appeared in court Monday via a video feed from the Jackson County Jail, where he has been held since his May 23 arrest.

"You've got 37 months hanging over your head, which is still a gift, in my opinion," she said.

Ravassipour also ordered that Wright pay $12,775 in restitution in the assault case, which had been set for trial last fall but continued because the victim did not appear in court.

"I really do plan to change my life around," Wright told Ravassipour. "I really want to do good."

In the May 7 riot on Hale Way, Wright allegedly stood in a doorway and pointed a shotgun at a vehicle with others inside as both Wright and those in the car flashed gang signs at each other, authorities said in court.

Shots were later fired at that residence and four others were later arrested. Their cases are still pending.

Wright was arrested two weeks later when a Jackson County Sheriff's Department SWAT team armed with a warrant raided the Hale Way house, police said.

Wright tried to run, but tripped when his pants fell down and he was arrested, authorities said.

The shotgun allegedly used by Wright in the May 7 riot was not found, but police did locate a .45-caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number. That gun was forfeited Monday.

Ravassipour also ordered Wright not to associate with gang members or visit gang web sites.

"I'm not really a gang member," said Wright, who sported a shaved head with several head and facial tattoos.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.