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Attempted murder suspect pleads to lesser charge

A Rogue River man whose trial for attempted murder was scheduled to begin Tuesday instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree assault.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies arrested Jack Vernon Porter on March 7, 2013, after he attacked his 74-year-old neighbor, Ronald Franchi, with a crowbar in the 900 block of Savage Creek Road. According to an affidavit filed by a sheriff's detective, Porter's father originally told dispatchers that Franchi had been stabbed multiple times. Porter, 37, refused to talk to deputies and was arrested after they discovered the bloody crowbar at the scene. Investigators believe Porter was under the influence of intoxicants at the time.

Franchi had lost a significant amount of blood by the time deputies arrived. He was taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford with life-threatening injuries. According to the affidavit, he had to undergo surgery to repair wounds to his head, neck and torso. He later recovered.

The Jackson County District Attorney's Office originally charged Porter with first-degree assault and attempted murder, Measure 11 felonies carrying minimum sentences of 90 months in prison each. Porter's three-day trial had been scheduled to begin Tuesday, and his attorney filed a notice Feb. 20 that Porter intended to assert that he had acted in self-defense.

But Porter changed his plea to guilty after Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton lowered the charge from attempted murder to second-degree assault. Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced Porter to 70 months in prison and three years' post-prison supervision. The first-degree assault charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Court records show Porter has prior felony convictions for first-degree theft in Jackson County and possession of methamphetamine in Josephine County.

Reach reporter Thomas Moriarty at 541-776-4471, or by email at tmoriarty@mailtribune.com. Follow him at @ThomasDMoriarty.

Jack Porter