Jackson Co. man to see retrial, after convicted of vehicular assault

MEDFORD, Ore.– The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said in 2016, Robert Lee Chaffee ran down another man with his car after an argument. The victim suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

In 2017, Chaffee was acquitted of attempted murder, but he was convicted on several counts of vehicular assault. But the jury’s verdict wasn’t unanimous. While Chaffee went to state prison, that verdict soon became unconstitutional.

Chaffee’s lawyer, Michael Kellington, said this opportunity at another trial is a huge opportunity. Kellington said, “We talk once a week, and I’ve spent the better part of  100 hours working on his case.”

Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Green says Chaffee’s case is one of just a few in the county going back to trial because of the supreme courts decision. Green said, “as of right now, this is the first batch of cases that have come back so far. And we’re expecting more.” Green says the flood of retrials the county will see is going to be difficult. Not only for the prosecution, but everyone involved. “We’ve already had a trial where victims and maybe their family members as witnesses have had to testify. They’ve been put through that trauma the first go around, and now were potentially asking them to do it again.”

Kellington, on the other hand, said the change is long overdue.

He said the ability to convict someone without a unanimous verdict was built on racism and discrimination. Kellington said, “I think that even it represents an annoyance for a whole bunch of people, I think this reflects our society’s understanding of this. This is a good thing for all of us.”

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