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Man sentenced to probation in machete case

A man who used a machete to chase people off property he managed was sentenced to probation after slicing one of the victims in the hand and narrowly missing his stomach.

Jon Robert Coldwate, 46, who currently lives as a self-described recluse in Josephine County, pleaded guilty Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court to unlawful use of a weapon for the July 2014 incident that occurred near railroad tracks by Jackson Wellsprings outside Ashland.

"I had a problem with people who moved onto property I managed," Coldwate said in court. "They were using methamphetamine. I was told to make them leave and I did. They got out of control."

Court-appointed defense attorney Donald Scales said the incident involved mutual combat.

Scales said the main victim has since passed away, but not because of the machete incident.

Coldwate said the man died of a drug overdose.

In October 2014, the man was found dead near railroad tracks by Hersey Street in Ashland, according to Ashland police.

According to an affidavit related to the July 2014 machete incident, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of an assault and found the victim with a "very deep cut on his left palm."

The affidavit said the victim also had a cut to his shirt in the stomach area where the machete blade had narrowly missed slicing his stomach.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia, who appeared troubled by the probation-only plea agreement sentence negotiated by the defense and prosecution, asked if the victim's death had created a problem in the prosecution of the case.

Scales said the Jackson County District Attorney's Office had been willing to move forward on the prosecution without the victim being available. He said the sentencing recommendation was the result of "zealous negotiation."

Mejia asked Coldwate if he had spent any time in jail while awaiting a plea agreement or trial, and Coldwate said he had been jailed for 62 days.

"OK. That makes a difference," Mejia said, and then imposed the probation sentence as recommended through the plea negotiations.

As one of the conditions of Coldwate's probation, Mejia said Coldwate could possess no weapons of any kind.

A check of Oregon circuit court records showed no other cases against Coldwate going back at least five years.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.