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Man admits to assault in meth-fueled crash, gets probation

A Gold Hill man has one last chance to avoid a decade in prison after admitting to assault, drug-delivery and impaired-driving charges in a serious crash that injured his former girlfriend and himself.

John Oscar Willard, 37, was put on supervised probation and given credit for serving nine months in jail after pleading guilty Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court to felonies and misdemeanors stemming from an crash outside Eagle Point last year while he and his passenger, a mother to at least one child of his, were under the influence of meth. 

Willard was ejected about 25 feet from the vehicle and suffered head trauma on the night of Aug. 9, 2016. The crash broke his passenger's femur and trapped her in the vehicle, according to Deputy District Attorney Ben Lull, who prosecuted the case. More than 10 grams of methamphetamine was found inside the vehicle.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge and more serious assault charges alleging that Willard intentionally crashed the vehicle — a claim that Willard's court-appointed defense lawyer Christine Herbert denied. Herbert said Willard lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a turn.

Because Willard was on probation at the time of the wreck, his consequence if he violates his latest probation is two consecutive 65-month prison sentences that can't be contested, according to Lull.

After accepting Willard's guilty pleas to felony counts of third-degree assault and delivering methamphetamine, as well as a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of intoxicants, Circuit Judge Patricia Crain sentenced him to supervised probation and nine months in jail with credit for time served, ordered him to pay $20,304 in restitution and revoked his license for a period of five years. Crain urged Willard to stay clean for his young daughter, saying there's a "whole recovery community" in the area.

"Hopefully, nine months sitting in jail without using has given you time to think," Crain said.

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