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Medford road rage homicide trial postponed

A vehicular homicide involving the 2017 death of a Talent motorcyclist might not occur until after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Raleigh Hugh Rodrigues, 68, also of Talent, will not stand trial next month on first- and second-degree manslaughter charges surrounding the alleged ramming death 25-year-old Kevin Anthony Mayo late the afternoon of Dec. 14, 2017, for reasons that include Rodrigues’ health, his defense lawyer’s health and health concerns of a key witness in the case, according to documents filed earlier this week in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Oregon State Police stated at the time of the crash that there had been a road rage incident for at least a mile on northbound Interstate 5 between Mayo, riding a Yamaha sport bike, and Rodrigues, behind the wheel of a full-size Chevrolet truck.

At about 4:50 p.m., Mayo fatally collided into the steel cable center barrier dividing the northbound and southbound lanes just before the south Medford exit.

Police found Mayo’s hand print on Rodrigues’ truck, Mayo’s family stated in a January 2018 interview.

Rodrigues has been out on bail since 2017, when he posted 10 percent bond on bail set at $250,000, according to earlier news reports.

It’s unclear when a trial can take place. His defense lawyer, Jeni Feinberg, said she’s unable to adequately prepare for trial during the surge of COVID-19 in part because Rodrigues is “in a high-risk group” — describing him as 68 years old and diagnosed with cancer — and therefore is unable to work with him in person to prepare for her client for trial.

Feinberg also describes her own health issues “which prevent her from being able to wear a mask for more than about 30 minutes at a time.”

Documents describing Feinberg and Rodrigues’ health conditions in further detail were sealed in court records.

“She (Feinberg) will not be able to participate in a trial while masked, and it is not safe for her to be around people who are not members of her household unmasked,” the document seeking to reschedule the trial states.

Feinberg wrote that a “key witness” in their case expressed “a reluctance to come to court during the pandemic,” but offered little further detail.

“Counsel do not believe that Mr. Rodrigues can receive a constitutionally adequate trial during a global pandemic with all parties in the courtroom wearing masks,” Feinberg wrote.

On Monday, Judge Lisa Greif granted the motion to continue trial to a later date despite objections from Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil, records show. A new trial date is slated to be scheduled at a Dec. 14.

It’s unclear whether the next trial date will stick, however. Two-day trials have been rescheduled six times since early 2019. A Jan. 23, 2019 trial was postponed at the request of Rodrigues’ lawyers, a March 26, 2019 trial was postponed because “several essential law enforcement witnesses are unavailable at the time currently scheduled for trial,” a Sept. 25, 2019 trial was rescheduled because a police officer was unavailable, a Dec. 4, 2019 trial was rescheduled at the request of Rodrigues’ defense lawyers, a May 20 trial was rescheduled due to coronavirus concerns and the Dec. 1 trial was rescheduled Monday.

An email message to the Mayo family was not immediately returned Wednesday, but the family has previously said that Kevin Mayo’s death sparked a domino effect of tragic circumstances for the family.

Less than a month after the crash, Kevin’s sister, Monique, was paralyzed from the chest down while driving home from Southern Oregon in a visit to support her father getting a tattoo of Kevin’s portrait.

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

Raleigh Hugh Rodrigues of Talent is out on bail on vehicular homicide charges. A trial may not occur until after the pandemic. Jackson County Jail booking photo.
First responders and Oregon State Police investigate the motorcycle crash that killed Kevin Mayo in this Dec. 14, 2017 file photo. Oregon State Police photo.