July 23, 2024

Ashland man pleads not guilty to manslaughter over motorcycle crash that killed passenger

October 3, 2023

Accused of being under the influence at time of crash in May in Phoenix

By Kevin Opsahl, Rogue Valley Times

An Ashland man pleaded not guilty Monday to manslaughter and other charges related to a fatal motorcycle accident last spring in which the man’s passenger was killed and he was allegedly under the influence of drugs.

Norman Paul Thompson, 45, was arrested Friday on a warrant by Medford police and jailed on charges of second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and two counts of recklessly endangering another person over the death of John Paul Vineyard on May 13.

Thompson was indicted by a Jackson County grand jury Sept. 20, and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest two days later. He was booked into Jackson County Jail where he remained Tuesday in lieu of $200,000 bail on the manslaughter charge.

Thompson pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Jeremy Markiewicz.

Previous news reports from May 13 say law enforcement and medical personnel responded to “a motorcycle rider with serious injuries” on North Phoenix Road near East Bolz Road, the short connector between Highway 99 and North Phoenix Road. Radio traffic said life-saving measures were initiated on the rider, and that person was later pronounced dead.

Thompson allegedly had cannabis or another controlled substance in his system and was on probation at the time of the crash.

Thompson, of the 100 block of Neil Creek Road, has been convicted in the past of third-degree assault in 2000 and unlawful use of a weapon in 2021, and he pleaded no contest to a second count in the same case. 

Thompson was convicted in numerous misdemeanor cases, as well, including resisting arrest in 2015, disorderly conduct in 2016 and 2022, harassment in 2018, unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful use of a weapon in 2022.

Reporter Kevin Opsahl can be reached at 458-488-2034 or This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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