Ashland murder trial scheduled for 2023
A murder trial in the 2020 Ashland shooting death of 19-year-old Aidan Ellison has been scheduled for early next year.
Robert Paul Keegan, 49, will stand trial on Feb. 27, 2023, to face charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and unlawfully possessing a firearm stemming from the death of 19-year-old Ellison, according to a new court date scheduled last week in Jackson County Circuit Court.
The alleged homicide outside the Stratford Inn began with a predawn dispute over Ellison playing loud music after 4 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2020 in the parking lot.
The situation allegedly escalated to the point that Keegan fired a weapon — described in an affidavit by Ashland police as a Mossberg MC1 9mm semi-automatic handgun —striking Ellison in the chest.
At 4:33 a.m., the clerk was talking to Ellison about the noise when Keegan allegedly continued an earlier confrontation and shot Ellison, according to an earlier news report.
Keegan allegedly told detectives at the time that he was afraid for his physical safety and that Ellison had punched him. Ellison’s hands, however, showed no signs of punching in his autopsy and police observed no visible facial injuries on Keegan.
Keegan is white, and Ellison was Black. The shooting prompted outcry and demonstrations among local racial justice leaders and concerned residents in the homicide’s immediate aftermath.
A vigil was held the following week, and Ellison’s name was added — alongside others such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — on the “Say Their Names” memorial in Ashland’s Railroad Park that recognizes the Black Lives Matter movement.
In early 2021, a lawyer representing Ellison’s mother, Andrea Wofford announced plans to sue Keegan and the Stratford Inn. As of Monday, no lawsuits had been filed in Wofford’s name against Keegan or the hotel.
Keegan remains held in the Jackson County Jail without bail. His next court appearance is a trial readiness hearing scheduled for Feb. 9.
Murder trials that normally take a year to a year-and-a-half to resolve are now taking two to three years. Courts face a backlog after COVID-19 restrictions limited court proceedings, Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert said during a spring budget presentation.
Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.