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Medford man gets 130 months after shooting the wrong guy

A Medford man was sentenced Tuesday to more than a decade in prison after admitting he shot the wrong man in a dispute over money and later tried to break out of the Jackson County Jail.

John Robert Hermann, 32, was sentenced to 130 months by Jackson County Circuit Judge Tim Barnack after pleading guilty to a March shooting that injured a man he thought owed him money. He also pleaded guilty to charges that he devised a scheme to escape from the jail's top floor by climbing down a rope made of bed sheets coerced from other inmates.

Hermann admitted he shot Matthew Stephen Atkinson in the early hours of March 25. Hermann and his girlfriend, Stephanie VanCleave, had forced Atkinson outside his home using a baseball bat and a handgun, telling him, "I just want to talk to you" and "I don't want to hurt you," said Deputy District Attorney Virginia Greer.

An altercation ensued and Hermann shot Atkinson in the groin area, said Greer. Atkinson's mother, who drove him to the emergency room about 3 a.m., spoke at the hearing, and she said the bullet struck her son less than an inch from his femoral artery.

"If my son wouldn't have jumped it would've killed him," she said.

In the first week of April, Hermann reportedly broke a mirror in his cell and used the shards to cut the sheets and to threaten inmates if they told anyone, according to Greer. She said corrections deputies found a rope made of "many, many, many feet tied together" in Hermann's cell.

"That's old school," said Barnack, who sentenced Hermann after taking his guilty pleas on second-degree assault, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful manufacture of a destructive device — related to a homemade bomb found at his home — and unlawful use of a weapon, as well as first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree escape on the attempted jailbreak.

VanCleave was sentenced to five years of supervised probation June 27 after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit first-degree assault and soliciting second-degree assault. 

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

John Robert Hermann