A jury has found Robert Paul Keegan, 50, guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Aidan Ellison, 19, on Nov. 23, 2020.
He was found not guilty of the charge of second-degree murder, for which he faced life in prison. He was also found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm, for carrying his gun in his jacket pocket without a concealed carry permit, and recklessly endangering another person, the hotel clerk, who was standing nearby at the time of the shooting.
Keegan, who is white, shot Ellison, who was Black, in the parking lot of the Stratford Inn in Ashland after the two had argued about Ellison playing loud music.
Ellison’s mother Andrea Wofford declined to be interviewed after the trial ended on Monday.
Keegan’s defense attorneys declined to give their reactions to the verdict or how Keegan had responded to it.
Ellison’s killing in November 2020 came at an especially fraught time for the Rogue Valley. The Almeda Fire had recently caused widespread destruction in the valley, and the world was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. His death also took place six months after George Floyd’s murder, which sparked global protests about racial injustice and police brutality.
In his closing statement on Monday, Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Lull argued that Keegan had repeatedly changed his story and lied about the night of the incident, both in his detective interview after the shooting and during his trial testimony on Friday.
Lull said Keegan’s actions were intentional, and he used more force than was reasonably necessary in the situation.
“Mr. Keegan said it was his worst day during his testimony,” Lull told the jury. “But don’t forget, it was Aidan Ellison’s last day. Please hold him accountable.”
Meanwhile, Public Defender Alyssa Bartholomew said in her closing statement that the state was twisting the facts of the case to suit their theory.
She described Ellison as highly unpredictable and highly intoxicated, as well as young, violent and aggressive when he attacked Keegan, who she said acted in self-defense.
“We are looking for the truth. We are looking for the facts. Because he is innocent,” she said, pointing to Keegan, “and his future is on the line.”
Keegan will be sentenced on Friday morning. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for the first-degree manslaughter conviction. He has already served 2.5 years in jail.