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Man gets jail for fight over wheelchair

A Medford man has a chance to avoid prison after admitting he threw a rock at a wheelchair-bound man earlier this year.

Howard Victor Gonzales, 51, was sentenced to jail and probation Friday after he entered guilty pleas to a felony weapons charge and a misdemeanor assault charge in Jackson County Circuit Court, admitting he injured a man in a wheelchair to the point the man needed an ambulance during a September fight near a Jack in the Box restaurant in the 2300 block of North Pacific Highway.

Gonzales said he had believed the 50-year-old victim had stolen his wheelchair when he threw a rock at him about 7:30 a.m. Sept. 26, causing the victim multiple head lacerations, including two wounds that needed staples. The victim had denied that he stole the wheelchair he was using.

Paul Moser, Gonzales' court-appointed defense lawyer, said there had been some "mutual aggression" leading up to the fight. Moser said his client was acting in self-defense, but a witness didn't corroborate the story. 

Gonzales had originally faced felony charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree assault, but prosecutors amended the charges after independent witnesses provided investigators conflicting information about the crime, according to a release from Deputy District Attorney Alyssa Claseman.

Gonzales pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault. Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced him to 90 days in jail, of which he has served 54 days, 3 years of probation and restitution to be determined.

If Gonzales fails to comply with any terms of his probation, he will serve 30 months in prison, the judge said.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Howard Gonzales