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Man claims killing was in 'defense of others'

Defense and prosecuting attorneys clashed last week over whether a murder defendant from Cave Junction should be able to argue at trial that he shot a man in "defense of others."

Lawyers for Stranger Davis, 30, asserted Thursday that to throw out their case before evidence has been entered is unfair, while prosecutors argued that the circumstances of this case would "turn the trial into a three-ring circus."

Davis, a longtime resident of the Illinois Valley, is charged with murder in the August 2014 slaying of Michael Clyde MacDonald, 61, who was known around town as "Dirty Mike."

The shooting took place at a property on Rockydale Road that allegedly was a hub for fencing stolen property. Witnesses told investigators they heard shots, then a man whom they knew came running up to them and exclaimed, "Stranger just shot Dirty."

When questioned by authorities, Davis admitted to the shooting, saying that MacDonald was a murderer and that he shot him to prevent MacDonald from killing anyone else, according to police.

Davis is not denying he shot MacDonald. Instead, he asserts that MacDonald was the leader of a local chapter of a biker gang called "Satan's Soldiers," which Davis claims is part of a wide-ranging criminal network in Josephine County and beyond.

Davis said that he was at one time involved in the gang and saw gang members murder people and dispose of bodies in chemical baths in Cave Junction. At present, his defense centers around whether his killing of MacDonald was justified in order to save others from criminal activity.

In a pre-trial hearing in a Josephine County Jail courtroom on Thursday, prosecutors asked Circuit Judge Lindi Baker to dismiss Davis' "defense of others" claim from being used in the trial.

Prosecutors said that on the date of the murder, MacDonald posed no immediate threat to anyone and therefore any defense that centers around past events or the possibility of future wrongdoing by MacDonald does not constitute self-defense or defense of others.

"The victim was gardening at the time of the crime," said deputy prosecutor Matt Corey.

MacDonald was once named as a person of interest in the November 2013 killing of Aaron Clouser in Cave Junction. However, another man, 45-year-old Daniel Martinson, was later arrested and convicted of negligent homicide in that killing.

MacDonald was with Martinson and Clouser the night of Clouser's slaying and was the only other witness to the incident. Prosecutors said MacDonald's death undercut their case, resulting in a plea deal for negligent homicide.

The Clouser slaying came amid a spate of violence in the Illinois Valley, including bar brawls in Cave Junction and a bizarre hit-and-run in which two men fistfighting in the middle of the night on the Redwood Highway were struck and killed by a motorist, who then fled.

The extent of MacDonald's criminal record is not entirely clear. Local court records show only a single arrest for possession of meth months before his death, but also suggested he was on parole and had a lengthy failure-to-appear history.

Davis has served prison time for nearly biting off a deputy's finger in 2004 and also has prior convictions for fleeing police in 2009 and robbery in 2010.

His lawyers originally sought to have the case dismissed on the grounds that Davis was psychologically unfit to testify in the trial.

At least four doctors found that Davis is not delusional but does suffer from emotional and psychological trauma — perhaps linked to a history of drug abuse.

The next hearing date for this case is on Jan. 17, at which time Baker is expected to announce her decision regarding Davis' defense.

His trial is set to begin Feb. 14.

Reach reporter Troy Shinn at 541-474-3806 or tshinn@thedailycourier.com.