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Man gets time served after assault conviction overturned

A man who was convicted by a nonunanimous jury in Jackson County will serve a fraction of the mandatory minimum prison sentence originally imposed for a vehicular assault in a Medford parking lot last year.

Kenneth Wayne Jefferson, 31, was sentenced Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to 15 months in prison — time he’s already served — after pleading guilty to second-degree assault. Jefferson admitted he struck the mother of his child with his car outside the Medford Ross Dress for Less store in April of 2019 during an argument over custody, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

Assault in the second degree typically carries a mandatory minimum 70-month prison sentence under Oregon’s Measure 11 sentencing law, and Jefferson had been serving a Measure 11 sentence after 10 out of 12 jurors voted to convict him of the charge in a June 2019 trial.

But Jefferson’s conviction was overturned earlier this year in the wake of an April U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed nonunanimous convictions.

Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil, one of the prosecutors on Jefferson’s case, said the victim “was fine with this offer,” adding that the parties no longer live in the area.

“They found this to be an acceptable resolution,” Geil said.

Geil said he hasn’t had to retry a case that’s come back on appeal before, but taking a case to trial is a risk.

“Any time you try a case twice, people have an even better idea of what you’re going to do,” Geil said.

Three cases Geil has tried over the past five years are coming back to him on appeal because of the Supreme Court’s April 20 ruling in Ramos vs. Louisiana. Oregon was the last state to allow nonunanimous jury convictions after the state of Louisiana discontinued the practice in 2019.

One of Geil’s nonunanimous convictions is a homicide case involving Susan M. King of Central Point, whose 2018 first-degree manslaughter conviction by a 10-2 jury is in the process of being overturned and remanded back to Jackson County.

Another Jackson County case overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals this year in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling includes a vehicular assault case against Ronald Lee Chaffee, 66, of Talent, who is scheduled to be retried Aug. 6.

Also, Ricardo McCants Jr., 28, who was convicted in 2017 of second-degree robbery on a 10-2 jury vote, was brought back to Jackson County earlier this month. His next court appearance is a pretrial conference set for July 24.

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

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