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Drunk driver who assaulted a police officer sentenced to 75 days in jail

An Alaska man who claimed he was brutalized by Medford police while being arrested for drunken driving in December 2012 was ordered today to serve a 75-day jail sentence.

Chad Ray Paxton was found guilty by a Jackson County jury Thursday of assaulting a peace officer, resisting arrest, second-degree escape and driving under the influence of intoxicants, Oregon Judicial Department records show.

Concerning the charge of assaulting a peace officer, the jury returned a verdict of 10 votes for guilty and two not-guilty votes, said Christopher Missiaen, Paxton's attorney. 

Oregon is one of two states, the other being Louisiana, that allows non-unanimous jury rulings in felony trials.

Paxton, who was found guilty of assaulting Medford Police Department Officer Jenny Newell, was acquitted of assaulting Medford police Cpl. Tom Venables, court records show. 

Missiaen said Venables testified that he would have felt justified killing Paxton during the assault involving himself, Newell and Paxton.

Missiaen said his argument in court was that Newell and Venables fabricated the facts of their scuffle with Paxton in order to justify their use of force.

Video taken at the scene through the windshield of Newell's police car shows Newell attempting to have Paxton perform field sobriety tests while Venables keeps an eye on Paxton's two passengers.

When Newell attempts to arrest Paxton, Venables approaches them to provide support. But the trio quickly tumble to the ground in front of the car Paxton was driving, the video shows.

The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning the verdict, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil, who prosecuted the case.

Paxton, 29, was sentenced by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia. 

In addition to 75 days in jail, he will face three years of supervised probation and pay restitution as well as court fees and fines.

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