Robert Paul Keegan is being tried by the state in Jackson County Circuit Court in Medford. On Monday, 24, April 2023 a trial with a 12-person jury will start. Aidan Ellison was shot and killed two and a half years ago. His death shocked people in the Rogue Valley and made people think of other young Black men who were killed around the country. Here are the most important things to know before the hearing.
What Happened Early on November 23, 2020?
The statement says that at 4 a.m., loud music came from the parking lot of the Stratford Inn in Ashland and woke up Keegan. He told Ellison to turn down his music, but Ellison wouldn’t do it. Keegan told Angel Carlin, the hotel clerk, what was going on. Angel Carlin then went to talk to Ellison. Ellison and Keegan got into an argument, and in the end, Keegan killed Ellison by shooting him in the chest with a semi-automatic pistol.
Aidan Ellison will be remembered on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse in Medford, Oregon, on December 3, 2020. Ellison was a Black teen who was shot and killed on November 23 by Robert Paul Keegan.
What Has Keegan Been Charged With?
Keegan was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, illegally having a gun, and putting the hotel clerk, who was standing close when Ellison was killed, in danger. He has denied all of the claims against him.
What Does The Prosecutor Say?
Benjamin Lull, who is a deputy district attorney in Jackson County, is in charge of the case. The charges say that Keegan caused Ellison’s death “illegally and on purpose,” in a way that showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” They also say that he “illegally and knowingly” hid his gun and that he “illegally and recklessly created a substantial risk of Angel Carlin getting seriously hurt.”
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What Does The Defense Say?
Alyssa Bartholomew, who works for the government, is defending Keegan. Keegan says that Ellison hit him in the face, and he shot Ellison because he was afraid for his safety. But an autopsy showed that neither Ellison’s hands nor Keegan’s face had any damage that would have been caused by punches.
What Could Happen if This Trial Goes On?
The study will last for two weeks. Tim Barnack, a judge in Circuit Court, will hear the case. For murder in the second degree, Keegan could spend the rest of his life in jail. In Oregon, first-degree manslaughter is a Class A felony, so he could go to jail for up to 20 years and have to pay a fine of up to $375,000. In Oregon, illegally having a gun and putting someone else in danger without thinking are both Classes A misdemeanors. This means that he could spend up to 364 days in jail and pay up to $6,250 in fines for each of these crimes.
What Will Happen Because of This Trial?
The Rogue Valley was especially tense in November 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was just starting to spread around the world, and the Almeda Fire had just caused a lot of damage in the valley, especially in Phoenix and Talent. Many people say that Keegan himself had to leave his home because of the fire and was living with his son at the Stratford Inn. It has also been said that the fire caused Ellison to lose his job at Burger King.
Six months before Ellison was killed, George Floyd was killed, which led to protests all over the world about social justice and police brutality. Ellison was Black, and Keegan is white. Many national news sources, like NPR and The New York Times, talked about his death.
In a statement at the time, the Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists, and Community Coalition said, “To be clear, Aidan was killed because he was a young Black person who made a white man uncomfortable and refused to submit to that man’s personally-perceived authority. Not because he was listening to music too loudly.”
Ellison’s mother, Andrea Wofford, put out a statement at the time saying, “What can be said about this girl who was full of spirit? He had just begun his journey through life when he was taken from us. Enough already. How many Black men have to die for this town to take hate crimes seriously?”