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Man gets prison for South Obenchain fire looting

A Medford man will serve nearly three years in prison for his role filling up a pickup truck with items stolen from an evacuated Shady Cove home.

Christopher Eugene Stegeman, 32, was sentenced to prison Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary and no contest to an aggravated theft charge surrounding a Sept. 11 burglary in the 21000 block of Highway 62 that occurred while the home was under Level 3 “Go” evacuation orders, according to Deputy District Melissa LeRitz, who prosecuted the case.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but has the same legal consequences as a guilty plea.

An alleged co-suspect, Ricky Lee Davis, 39, is in the Jackson County Jail on pending burglary, theft and weapons possession charges in the case.

Stegeman loaded up a GMC Sierra pickup with items that included two Xbox consoles, a computer, a camera, hockey gear, skateboards, miscellaneous jewelry and professional hair cutting supplies, according to LeRitz and court documents filed in the cases. The items were valued at more than $10,000.

Some of the stolen items had the victim’s name on them “in plain view that you could just see,” LeRitz said.

The victim in the burglary did not attend the hearing, but LeRitz said that the burglary shook the victim.

“This was a trying experience with the fires, and then coming home and finding her home ransacked,” she said.

LeRitz is prosecuting all Jackson County looting cases that occurred in evacuation zones during the Almeda and South Obenchain fires. She said the DA’s office is “definitely taking these cases very seriously.”

“The court is also backing us up as well,” she said.

Stegeman was sentenced Friday to 34 months in the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Davis, the codefendant in the case, is currently scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5, court records show.

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

Christopher Eugene Stegeman, 34, was sentenced to 34 months in prison for burglarizing a Shady Cove home under evacuation during the South Obenchain fire. Jackson County Jail booking photo.