Defense requested discussion before trial set to start May 1 for killing Aidan Ellison
An Ashland man accused of killing a teenager during an early-morning argument over loud music in 2020 is scheduled for a settlement conference in Jackson County Circuit Court later this month, a few weeks ahead of a scheduled jury trial.
Robert Paul Keegan, 49, is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm for allegedly shooting Aidan Ellison, 19, in the parking lot of the Stratford Inn in Ashland on Nov. 23, 2020.
Keegan’s two-week jury trial is scheduled to begin May 1, but this past week, his defense counsel requested a settlement conference, which has been scheduled for April 20.
Keegan’s lawyer, Alyssa Bartholomew, declined comment Wednesday.
Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Lull wrote in an email that the settlement conference was scheduled at the request of defense counsel. He said prosecutors’ position in the Keegan case “remains the same” — that the defendant should go to trial.
“No deals have been made on this case to date, and I … certainly cannot speculate on what will or will not occur at a future settlement conference, as that remains to be determined at that time,” Lull wrote.
Keegan had a settlement conference in this case scheduled Feb. 24, but that was canceled.
Settlement conferences, which are closed to the public, sometimes result in a plea bargain. Other times, conferences don’t end in a resolution.
Two murder cases in Jackson County serve as recent examples.
Earlier this week, Jackson David Frischman, 21, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after reaching a settlement, which included negotiation with the victim’s family. Frischman, indicted for murder, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter for killing 28-year-old Jeffrey Randolph Blackwood Jr. with a baseball bat at the Best Western Horizon Inn in Medford Dec. 6, 2020.
In another case, the defense and prosecution teams were not able to reach a settlement agreement March 10 in the case of Wiley River Foxx, 19 — charged in the murder of James Watters, 24, on Aug. 19, 2021. A pre-trial conference is now scheduled for April 17.
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.
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 allegedly refused.
Keegan reportedly 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, police said.
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, and Keegan had no visible injuries to his face.
Prosecutors have not charged Keegan with a hate crime, and have not indicated whether they believe race was a factor in the killing.