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Driver in fatal Trail crash sentenced to probation, avoids prison

A 24-year-old White City man described by his attorney as a "low-functioning individual" avoided prison time today for recklessly driving a pickup that crashed in August near Trail, killing a 17-year-old girl who was riding in the pickup bed.

Casey Andrew Mock instead will face two years in prison if he drives a vehicle or violates other conditions in his three-year probation after pleading guilty this morning to criminally negligent homicide in the death of Brianna Elaine St. Arnold.

A felon with past burglary and weapons convictions, Mock faced 24 months in prison under sentencing guidelines, records show. Mock had been in the Jackson County Jail since the Aug. 6 crash, and Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Barnack sentenced Mock to three years' probation and 90 days in jail with credit for time served and permanently revoked Mock's Oregon driving privileges.

Before imposing the sentence, Barnack said he agreed with the plea agreement, saying it is "difficult to send someone up to prison" in a case like this when neither drugs nor alcohol were involved.

"He does have this prison time over his head," Barnack told St. Arnold family members who were in court this morning.

Barnack told the family members that they were "very generous" to accept Mock's apology in court today in a case Barnack called "a very tragic situation."

"No parent should ever outlive their child," Barnack said.

St. Arnold was one of two teenage girls in the bed of Mock's speeding and fish-tailing pickup Aug. 6 when it hit a rock and flipped in the 400 block of West Fork Trail Creek Road, prosecutor Nicholas Geil said in court. St. Arnold and the other teen, who were not restrained in the pickup bed, were ejected and the pickup rolled over St. Arnold, Geil said.

The other girl recovered. Mock and another man inside the pickup were unhurt, police said at the time of the crash.

St. Arnold died in a Medford hospital with parents Mickiel and Shelly St. Arnold of Shady Cove by the side of their only child.

"We don't even understand why she was in the back of the pickup, but it doesn't matter," Mickiel St. Arnold said in court. "Nothing's going to bring our daughter back."

St. Arnold called the case "a nightmare" that has ruined their lives.

"I just hope Casey Mock will find some peace in himself," he said.

Defense attorney Donald Scales described Mock in court as a "low-functioning individual" with mild mental disabilities and said those likely contributed to Mock's "bad judgment" that day.

"I know that doesn't bring your daughter back," Scales told the family in court.

"Quite frankly, I think that's a blessing," Scales said, referring to Barnack's revocation of Mock's driving privileges.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors dropped second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving charges.

Mock pleaded guilty to a first-degree burglary charge in November 2010 and was sentenced to probation, court records show. He was also sentenced to probation in June 2013 after pleading guilty to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show.

Mock was returned to the Jackson County Jail for processing and likely will be released later today, said Sgt. Christine Bronson of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Casey Mock