Man convicted of 2016 manslaughter, DUII
After five hours of deliberations following three days of testimony, a jury returned a guilty verdict against Joshua Joseph MacDonald-Pose on Friday night.
The jury began deliberating around 4:30 p.m. Friday and signaled they had reached a verdict just after 9:30 p.m.
Jurors returned guilty verdicts against 34-year-old MacDonald-Pose for first-degree manslaughter, driving while under the influence of intoxicants and two counts of witness tampering.
MacDonald-Pose starting the day on the stand, telling his version of the May 2016 motorcycle crash that resulted in the death of John J. Soule, 39, of Gold Hill.
MacDonald-Pose had a compound leg fracture among his injuries in the crash.
While prosecutors have built their case on MacDonald-Pose colliding with Soule as they rode together on Interstate 5 near Rogue River, defense attorneys argued that one of the eyewitnesses caused the fatal crash.
David Jackson was driving on I-5 that night with Jennifer Bauer and their four children after a daylong family outing, according to earlier testimony. Jackson said he had pulled to the right after someone flashed lights at him even though he wasn’t driving too slow.
After vehicles passed on the left, Jackson and Bauer heard, then saw, the motorcyclists come up on their left, they testified. They add that MacDonald-Pose appeared to have passed out and leaned into Soule before they rolled off the road.
Defense, however, says Jackson drifted into the fast lane on a curve and ultimately caused the motorcyclists to crash.
MacDonald-Pose testified he had been riding to the left of Soule at the critical point and that they weren’t traveling as fast as the prosecution asserts. The defendant also said that he wasn’t intoxicated enough to have been out of control of his motorcycle.
Witness testimony was that the motorcyclists were in the opposite positions but still to the right of them.
Defense attorney Clayton Lance objected numerous times during cross-examination as Prosecutor Nicholas Geil attempted to ask MacDonald-Pose questions about his background. The jury was sent out of the courtroom on some occasions while the judge and attorneys left the room at other points.
“Anytime I get to a useful question, I get interrupted,” Geil said to Jackson County District Judge Timothy Barnack.
MacDonald-Pose said he is a former member of the Freebird Motorcycle Club. He also said the call that prosecutors say was an attempt to deter the witnesses was to ask his uncle to have someone look into the background of the witnesses.
Lance said to Barnack that his objections were “on grounds of character by association.”
Barnack said he would allow Geil to keep going because he was trying to establish that Jackson and Bauer “were very afraid” of the defendant and his associates.
In his closing argument, Lance said MacDonald-Pose “has to be the cause of the accident, not part of the chain of events” in order to find him guilty of manslaughter.
Lance also asked them to “not make decisions on sympathy or bias.”
Deputy District Attorney Melissa LeRitz said MacDonald-Pose had twice previously been convicted for DUII, and stated that defense arguments didn’t make sense compared with expert witnesses who recreated the scene.
Even if MacDonald-Pose didn’t intend for Soule to die that evening, LeRitz said, his medical blood alcohol test done before midnight was 0.11 and his later blood alcohol test was slightly below the legal limit of 0.08.
With the earlier intoxicated driving convictions, by that night he had “multiple opportunities” to learn from his mistakes and “should have done better,” said LeRitz.