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AR-15, duct tape used in pot robbery

Two Texans who posed as pot buyers strapped a Central Point man to a chair, beat him, stole pounds of marijuana stored in his garage and led police on a chase before crashing in east Medford, authorities say.

Ashton Shamar Garrett, 21, and Erick Yair Cervantes Melinero, 22, both of the Fort Worth area, were arraigned today in Jackson County Circuit Court on burglary, robbery and elude charges, court documents show.

Garrett, Cervantes Melinero and possibly a third suspect allegedly brandished an AR-15 rifle and Glock handgun while robbing a man at his home in the 800 block of Greenleaf Lane during what the man expected to be a marijuana sale, according to court documents filed by Central Point police and Oregon State Police. The man told police that three suspects were involved in the robbery, but no other suspects have yet been named in court records.

Garrett and Cervantes Melinero were the only people inside the car during a police chase that ended with a wreck on North Phoenix Road near Juanipero Way at 6:29 p.m. Tuesday, according to police.

The Central Point resident suffered minor scrapes and bruises after the suspects allegedly tied him with duct tape to a chair and punched him about five times in the face, court documents say. The robbers allegedly loaded up a silver Honda Civic coupe with multiple pounds of marijuana from the garage before demanding the man's iPhone.

A visit from the man's friend midway through the attack complicated the robbery, according to police. The friend inadvertently blocked the suspects' Civic in the driveway.

Garrett allegedly ordered the friend at gunpoint to give him his car keys and moved the vehicle before the suspects fled in the Civic, which had Texas plates.

Within 10 minutes after the friend called 911, Oregon State Police troopers spotted a car matching the Honda's description, with Cervantes Melinero, listed in Jackson County Jail records as Erick Yair Cervantes, behind the wheel.

Cervantes Melinero initially pulled over, police said, but took off while the officer waited for backup.

The Civic took Interstate 5 Exit 27 and drove recklessly toward east Medford, according to court documents.

Cervantes Melinero drove over a curb and on the shoulder around traffic stopped near the Medford off-ramp, and drove on the sidewalk through a red light on Barnett Road and Ellendale Drive, court documents allege. Police chased the Civic on Barnett Road, Golf View Drive, Juanipero Way and onto North Phoenix Road.

At the North Phoenix Road intersection, an OSP officer hit the Honda with his patrol car in a maneuver known as a pursuit intervention technique, causing Cervantes Melinero to lose control and strike a white Toyota Tundra pickup. The woman driving the pickup suffered minor injuries in the crash.

The impact of the crash opened the Honda Civic's trunk, exposing multiple bags of marijuana, according to Central Point police. Medford police and OSP said they found an AK-47 rifle in the back seat.

At a Wednesday hearing, Jackson County Circuit Judge Lisa Greif set $500,000 bail amounts for Cervantes Melinero and Garrett, with release conditions for each suspect including no early release unless they post 10 percent of their bail amount.

Cervantes Melinero faces charges of first- and second-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, coercion, unauthorized use of a vehicle and misdemeanor charges of reckless endangering, fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal mischief.

Garrett faces charges of first- and second-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, coercion, unlawful use of a weapon and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Under Oregon's Measure 11 laws, first-degree robbery carries a mandatory-minimum prison sentence of 90 months and second-degree robbery of 70 months upon conviction.

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

Erick Yair Cervantes Melinero, left, and Ashton Shamar Garrett
Rescuers respond Tuesday evening to a wreck on North Phoenix Road near Juanipero Way that followed an armed robbery in Central Point and a police chase. [Medford Fire-Rescue photo]