ashland.news
February 24, 2024

Settlement conference scheduled for Ashland murder suspect

Aidan Ellison on a mural at Ashland High School. Peter Finkle photo
April 14, 2023

Defense requested discussion before trial set to start May 1 for killing Aidan Ellison

By Kevin Opsahl, Rogue Valley Times

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. 

Robert Paul Keegan

“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.

Aidan Ellison

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.

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

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

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

Related Posts...

SOU hires new director of government relations

Southern Oregon University has a new advocate in Salem and Washington, D.C. Marc Overbeck has been hired as SOU’s director of government relations, the university’s primary liaison with state and federal lawmakers, and advocate for the university on matters involving higher education policy and funding.

Read More »

Latest posts

SOU hires new director of government relations

Southern Oregon University has a new advocate in Salem and Washington, D.C. Marc Overbeck has been hired as SOU’s director of government relations, the university’s primary liaison with state and federal lawmakers, and advocate for the university on matters involving higher education policy and funding.

Read More >

Council Corner: Ashland responds to the homeless crisis

Tonya Graham: We are clear about one thing — engaging in magical thinking doesn’t help. Ignoring this problem will not make it go away. Instead, it will make it worse — for young families, elders, teens, and people with mental illness who find themselves surviving on the streets, as well as for the quality of life in Ashland.

Read More >

Explore More...

SOU hires new director of government relations

Southern Oregon University has a new advocate in Salem and Washington, D.C. Marc Overbeck has been hired as SOU’s director of government relations, the university’s primary liaison with state and federal lawmakers, and advocate for the university on matters involving higher education policy and funding.

Read More>
ashland.news logo

Subscribe to the newsletter and get local news sent directly to your inbox.

(It’s free)

Don't Miss Our Top Stories

Get our newsletter delivered to your inbox three times a week.
It’s FREE and you can cancel anytime.