ashland.news
May 19, 2024

Ashland murder trial rescheduled for May

Aidan Ellison on a mural at Ashland High School. Peter Finkle photo
February 23, 2023

Trial of Robert Keegan for killing Aidan Ellison had been scheduled to start Monday

By Kevin Opsahl, Rogue Valley Tribune

An Ashland man accused of killing a teenager for playing loud music in 2020 is due to stand trial at the start of May.

Robert Paul Keegan, 49, was charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another person.

Keegan is accused of shooting Aidan Ellison, 19, in the parking lot of the Stratford Inn in Ashland on Nov. 23, 2020. 

Aidan Ellison

According to court records, Keegan’s 14-day jury trial is slated to begin May 1.

Keegan’s lawyer, Alyssa Bartholomew, did not object to a motion by Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Lull in December to move the trial date from Feb. 27. Bartholomew filed a motion saying she wanted to send evidence in the case for an independent expert analysis.

On Feb. 16, she filed a motion for William Moore, of Palmdale, California-based Moore Forensics, to analyze the evidence, including a 9mm handgun police and prosecutors say Keegan allegedly used to kill Ellison, as well as Ellison’s clothes and the bullet that killed him.

Robert Paul Keegan

If the court does not agree to the independent analysis, Bartholomew wrote, she has paperwork ready to send the evidence to the Oregon State Police Forensic Services lab to perform tests. Bartholomew alleges that Lull objects to an independent evaluation of evidence, and that his position on a potential state lab review is unknown.

The motion on the analysis of evidence is scheduled for a hearing before Circuit Court Judge Timothy Barnack.

Ever since his 2020 arrest, Keegan’s case has generated a groundswell of community interest, in part because the defendant is white and Ellison was Black. Demonstrations have been organized by local racial justice leaders and concerned residents over the killing.

Police have not charged Keegan with a hate crime, and prosecutors have not indicated whether they believe race was a factor in the killing.

On Nov. 23, 2020, just after 4:30 a.m., Keegan allegedly shot Ellison in the chest with a Mossberg MC1 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the parking lot of the hotel.

A half-hour earlier, police say, Keegan woke up to loud music coming from the parking lot. He allegedly asked Ellison to turn the music down, and Ellison refused.

Keegan got dressed, collected his gun and complained to hotel clerk Angel Carlin about the music. Keegan then went to speak to Ellison in the parking lot, where an argument ensued. 

Keegan claimed Ellison struck him in the face several times with his left fist. Keegan told police he racked his gun and shot Ellison in the chest because “he was in fear for his physical safety,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.

The affidavit states that Ellison’s autopsy showed no injuries to his hands to confirm whether he had punched Keegan, and Keegan had no visible injuries to his face.

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at kopsahl@rvtrib.com. Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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