The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com
Monday, December 5, 2022
Rogue Valley Weather
UPDATE: Murder Suspect in Custody After Public Tip
RUCH, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies arrested the Ruch murder suspect this evening at 8:35 after receiving a tip on his potential location from the public. JCSO deputies located the suspect on a property in the 2900 block of Eastside Road in rural Jacksonville and he was taken into custody without incident. The suspect was apprehended approximately four miles from the scene of Monday’s crime. The suspect, Jose “Alfredo” Sotelo-Palma, will be lodged at the Jackson County Jail without bail. Thank you to our community for the information that helped bring him into custody. There is no further information at this time.
—– ORIGINAL RELEASE: RUCH, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Criminal Investigations Division (CID) detectives are asking the public for their assistance in locating a suspect wanted for murder in the shooting homicide that occurred last Monday in Ruch, Ore. The suspect, Jose “Alfredo” Sotelo-Palma, 38, from Sinaloa, Mexico is wanted on charges of second-degree murder, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and two counts of menacing. He is described as a Hispanic male adult, 5’11” tall, with a slender build, brown eyes, and black hair. Anyone with information on his current whereabouts is asked to call ECSO dispatch at (541) 776-7206. If you have additional information on the suspect or homicide, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case 22-6947.
The homicide occurred Monday, Nov. 28 at a marijuana growing and processing facility in the 2300 block of Little Applegate Road outside Jacksonville, Ore. The suspect, victim, and multiple witnesses are alleged to have Mexican drug Cartel association. Next of kin has been notified. The victim is Luis Ayala-Zavala, 31, of Jacksonville, Ore.
This case is active and ongoing with CID detectives following additional leads. United States Marshals Service and Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) are assisting JCSO CID detectives. MADIU consists of Oregon State Police (OSP) detectives, OSP Forensics Laboratory, Jackson County District Attorney’s office, Medford Police Department, and Central Point Police Department. There is no further information available for release.
Grants Pass Police Arrest Man Threatening To Shoot Officers
Grants Pass, Ore. – Friday morning at 7:29 AM, Grants Pass Police responded to Southridge Way in Grants Pass for reports of a man running in the street and threatening to shoot people. Upon arrival, officers located the man, who they quickly assessed as likely suffering from a combination of mental illness and methamphetamine-induced psychosis.
To protect the citizens in the neighborhood, officers isolated the subject and began de-escalation attempts by talking with the subject to gain his compliance. The man shouted to officers that he had a gun and was going to shoot them. Officers showed extreme restraint as the man continually reached into his jacket and waistband to simulate drawing a firearm. The officers, who were unable to verbally gain the man’s compliance, ultimately deployed a less-lethal Taser device to take the subject into custody. The man was found to be in possession of methamphetamines and narcotics smoking pipes, but no gun was found. Neither the officers nor the suspect received serious injuries because of the incident.
The man was identified as 33-year-old Joshua C. Wilson of Grants Pass. After receiving medical clearance at the Three Rivers Medical Center, Wilson was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for two counts of Menacing, Criminal trespass, and a Probation Violation Detainer. He also received a citation for possessing less than a gram of methamphetamines, which is currently a Class E violation in Oregon.
This incident serves as another example of the dangers of narcotics use, such as methamphetamines, and the potentially lethal consequences that using drugs can create. The Grants Pass Police Department is thankful lethal force was avoided in this case and appreciates the extraordinary steps officers took to protect the safety of all involved. The Grants Pass Police Department also thanks the affected citizens for their patience during the incident.
Jackson County Man Arrested By Winston Police After Tip Revealed Luring Of Minor
A Jackson County man was arrested by Winston Police on luring and online sexual corruption charges, police said Friday.
On May 26, 2022, the Winston Police Department received a tip that a man was speaking with a minor child over social media.
Officers investigated the tip and learned that 22-year-old Dayton Foster was soliciting a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual contact, WPD stated.
“Officers learned that Foster was living in White City, Ore., and traveled to his house where he was taken into custody and transported back to the Douglas County Jail,” Winston PD said.
Foster was charged with Luring a Minor and Online Sexual Corruption of a Minor in the Second Degree.
The 42nd Annual Southern Oregon Toy Run
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Motors and Patrol, Medford Police, and other local law enforcement Motors assisted with the 42nd Annual Southern Oregon Toy Run Saturday day by blocking traffic for approx. 400 motorcycles delivering toys to the Eagles Lodge in Medford.
Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office Update that Murder Suspects Have Been Found in Nevada
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- December 4, 2022 – 2:50 pm ***The two Persons of Interest, and the Toyota Minivan, that TCSO Detectives have been searching for have been located in Nevada. TCSO Detectives are en route to Nevada at this time. This is an ongoing major crimes investigation. TCSO will release further information when it is appropriate to do so.
· ***For Immediate Release – December 3, 2022, 1:20 pm ***The Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office is searching for two Persons of Interest associated with a homicide victim who was discovered December 2, 2022. A 52-year-old deceased male was located in a campsite in the Tillamook State Forest.
The two Persons of Interest are: Alyssa Z. Sturgill, 40, and Lisa M. Peaslee, 41, both were living in their car in the Tillamook Forest. It is believed Sturgill and Peaslee had taken the victim’s light blue 2002 Toyota Sienna minivan that had Oregon Plate YPM326 and a VIN of 4T3ZF19C92U420329.
If you see this vehicle, or the two Persons of Interest, do not contact the individuals, instead, please call 911 immediately. If you have other information regarding these subjects or this case, please call the TCSO Tip line at 503-815-3319
Update on the status of FICS transactions in the Pended/Delayed Queue – Oregon
BM114 becomes law on December 8, 2022. Since November 8, 2022, the FICS unit has experienced unprecedented volumes of firearms transactions never seen before in the program’s 26-year history. OSP continues to work diligently to process and resolve as many of the pended/delayed FICS transactions as possible.
FICS transactions that are not completed with an approval number by midnight on December 7, 2022, will require the purchaser to initiate their permit application to obtain a Permit-to-Purchase before their FICS transaction can resume. This means your FICS transaction will not be canceled on December 8th. Once the purchaser has an approved permit, the FICS transaction will resume.
It is important to note that many times pended/delayed FICS transactions are due to missing, incomplete, or incorrect information. When there is missing or incomplete information on a person’s Computerized Criminal History (CCH), OSP must contact the agency that is the owner of that information to obtain official records so that OSP can determine whether the person is approved for the firearm purchase. The agencies contacted most for missing or incomplete information are the Courts or District Attorneys’ offices throughout the United States. There are no required timelines for the agencies to respond to our requests for missing or incomplete information. By statute, the information within the FICS transaction database can only be held for five years.
Oregon State Police has worked with Permit Agents regarding the application form for the Permit-to-Purchase. The draft application is in the final review with permitting agencies and will be posted to the Oregon State Police’s website and available to those wishing to apply for a Permit-to-Purchase on December 8, 2022.
With BM114 becoming law on December 8, 2022, this gives Oregon State Police a very short window to develop a program and have technology available for use on day 1 of the new law. Because of this, the Permit-to-Purchase program at Oregon State Police will be a manual paper process until new technical systems can be designed and implemented.
Oregon Attorney General Wants To Delay Parts Of Measure 114
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced Sunday night that state’s Department of Justice wants a postponement of some provisions in Measure 114, the new gun law recently approved by voters.
Measure 114 is scheduled to take effect Thursday, December 8. It is already facing legal challenges from a number of groups, one of which includes an Oregon county sheriff.
Rosenblum’s decision “was made only after local law enforcement clarified that they would not be able to process permit applications as soon December 8, when Measure 114 takes effect,” a release from the AG’s office said.
However, they are only asking for a postponement of certain parts of the law. The Oregon DOJ said “other parts of the measure should take effect as scheduled, including the process for applying for permits, the restrictions on large capacity magazines, and the requirement that background checks must be completed – and not just requested – before firearms can be transferred.”
Read: Oregon AG letter to Judge Immergut — The letter sent to US District Judge Karin Immergut acknowledged that “leaders of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police” submitted sworn statements that no one in the state would be able to complete the in-person firearm safety training on December 8 that Measure 114 requires.
There are 3 legal challenges to Measure 114 and all three are filing second amendment challenges. But two lawsuits are challenging Measure 114’s 10-round magazine capacity.
Bill To Combat Oregon’s Public Defender Shortage
Oregon is facing a public defender shortage, adding stress to current attorneys and leaving hundreds of people charged with crimes without representation. According to the state judicial department, 709 people in Oregon charged with a crime do not have representation currently.
An American Bar Association report from January said every current public defender in Oregon would have to work 26 hours a day to handle the current caseload.
When asked who loses when society doesn’t have enough public defenders, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici replied, “We all do. It’s not fair to the defendant who’s accused of a crime and has a constitutional right to a lawyer. It’s not fair to the victims of the crime. It’s not fair to the judicial system and it’s not fair to the public in general.”
Bonamici says a functional judicial system is a vital part of the community not to mention guaranteed in the Constitution. She says right now, the state is short 1,300 public defenders.
Many lawmakers, including Bonamici, are pushing for the EQUAL Defense Act , a piece of federal legislation to support public defenders.
First proposed last year, the bill grants funding to help public defenders across the country. Also, provisions for workload limits, getting more data and addressing pay disparity between prosecutors and public defenders. Congresswoman Bonamici said a student loan forgiveness program would also be included.Chavez-DeRemer on bipartisanship, Measure 114, 2024 presidential race
“This is all about having a fully functioning judicial system in our state courts,” said Bonamici. “It’s about public safety. It’s about respecting people’s constitutional rights to counsel in criminal cases.”
Bonamici says she’s hoping to get this bill moving through Congress, hoping to make it bipartisan and says it has gained support from Democrats and Republicans.
Driver Arrested In Fatal Crash On Highway 58
In a news release from Oregon State Police (OSP), an on-going investigation into the November 20, 2022 fatal crash on Highway 58 has resulted in the arrest of Amber Gonzalez-Riddle.
On Thursday, December 1, OSP Troopers arrested Gonzalez-Riddle and lodged her in the Lane County Jail on charges of:
- Manslaughter II
- Reckless Endangering-2 counts
- Assault III-2 counts
The arrest is a result from the fatal crash that occurred back in November. Officials say preliminary investigations revealed that Gonzalez-Riddle was driving on Highway 58 when they had crossed into the oncoming eastbound lane and collided with another vehicle. That other vehicle caught fire and was fully engulfed by the flames after occupants were removed.
Gonzalez-Riddle and their passengers were transported to a hospital with injuries, however one passenger in Gonzalez-Riddles car, a five-year-old girl, had sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead.
Family Of Teenager Who Died By Suicide While In An Oregon Agency’s Custody Has Reached A $2.5 Million Settlement Agreement
The family of a teenager who died by suicide while in an Oregon agency’s custody has reached a $2.5 million settlement agreement, exactly three years after his death.
While judicially committed to the care of the Oregon Youth Authority, Brett Bruns, 19, lived at Looking Glass Community Services, a 24-hour supervised group facility in Eugene. The legal complaint says a supervisor, Nicholas Brown, placed Bruns on suicide watch after seeing him tie his shoelaces into a noose.
The legal complaint says Brown moved Bruns to a locked and secure area, but he didn’t confiscate the shoelaces. The next day, Brown allowed Bruns to leave the facility, even though Bruns was still on suicide watch. Two days later, Bruns’ body was found in a public park, apparently having used his shoelaces to die by suicide.
“This was a completely avoidable tragedy,” Dave Park, an attorney representing Bruns’ family, said in a statement. “We learned through this case that the state does not do nearly enough to ensure youth are safe within the facilities the state contracts with for rehabilitation services.”
The Oregon Youth Authority is a state agency that manages correction facilities for youth offenders. It contracts with Looking Glass Community Services, a nonprofit childcare agency, to provide highly supervised and secure residential treatment programs for juvenile offenders.
Bruns was committed to the authority’s care in 2015. He moved through several different facilities over the following years, including the Looking Glass Facility. Bruns was enrolled in Looking Glass’s Pathways Boys Program, a behavior rehabilitation services program for boys between 12 and 25 years old who experience severe emotional and behavioral problems.
“Most troubling to his parents, was the lack of communication about their son’s condition or care,” the attorney’s statement reads. “They were left in the dark about all of it.”
The legal complaint says the Oregon Youth Authority didn’t inform Bruns’ parents about their son’s deteriorating mental health or the treatment he needed to recover. It says his parents didn’t learn that Bruns previously attempted suicide while under state custody until after he died.
In addition to the payment, the legal settlement requires the Looking Glass facility to improve its policies to better serve at-risk youth. The facility will have to notify caregivers of suicide risks, advocate state leaders for improved medical and mental health care for adjudicated youth, increase staff wages, and improve suicide prevention training for all staff.
Lines Extend Around The Block At Portland ‘Shroom House’ After News Breaks Of Psilocybin Sales
The line to enter ‘Shroom House’ in downtown Portland extended around the block on Friday after news was released that the store was selling psychedelic mushrooms to customers.
Willamette Week and The Oregonian reported on the West Burnside supplement shop Thursday afternoon. In both cases, store staff made no secret of the fact that they were selling mushrooms containing psilocybin, although the process required that customers give identification and register with the company.
In fact, the shop has been open about psilocybin sales since before it started doing business. In August, when signs around the shop still said “coming soon,” psilocybin appeared about halfway down a list of mushrooms that Shroom House advertised for sale.
In 2020, Oregon voters approved two revolutionary measures related to drug legalization: Measure 110, which decriminalized user amounts of narcotics, and Measure 109, which legalized the use of psilocybin in a regulated therapeutic, clinical setting.
Neither of those laws made the retail sale of psilocybin legal.
“I still think a lot of people have reached out thinking that this is a dispensary model, or that people will be able to go in and purchase psilocybin and take it with them off site,” said Angie Allbee, section manager for Oregon Psilocybin Services, which operates under the Oregon Health Authority. “We also know that that’s not a part of what ORS 475A created.”
At the same time, it’s not clear that authorities in Portland care to harsh Shroom House’s vibe. When asked for comment, the Portland Police Bureau referred the media to OHA’s Oregon Psilocybin Services.
“I can only say that the Narcotics and Organized Crime unit is aware of the allegations being made online and in numerous news stories about this location,” Sgt. Kevin Allen said in a brief statement. “The nature of NOC’s work requires them to be cautious about what they release publicly, so I can’t say more than the fact that they’re aware of it.”
Allen said that he did not expect there to be any new developments Friday.
This isn’t Shroom House’s first rodeo. A store in Vancouver, British Columbia, shares the same name and logo. It’s been around since late 2021 or early 2022.
Retail psilocybin sales aren’t any more legal in Canada, but police in Vancouver, BC acknowledged earlier this year that busting these mushroom dispensaries simply isn’t high on their list of priorities.
If the company’s Twitter account is any indication, they aren’t exactly afraid of the news coverage either — they retweeted two accounts that shared the Oregonian and Willamette Week stories.
There’s also a Canada-based Shroom House website that purports to sell mushrooms via delivery, but the site includes a disclaimer that it has “no relevance” to retail shops in the U.S. or Canada.
“We do not operate out of any retail units, we are solely online and have no other stores elsewhere,” the site states.
Research suggests psilocybin, administered responsibly, may help address depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction.
Even though Oregon passed the law for legal administration of psilocybin in 2020, the clinics that are expected to do this kind of therapy have yet to open. The program has been gradually making its way through an extensive administrative and regulatory process before that happens.
“It will really take all four license types in order for service center doors to open — so you would need a licensed manufacturer to cultivate or process psilocybin products,” Allbee said. “You would need a licensed testing lab to test those products according to our requirements and rule. You would have to have then a licensed service center to sell that psilocybin product to, and then you would have to have licensed facilitators to be able to provide psilocybin services which include a preparation session, administration session, and integration.”
Health leaders and stakeholders have until the end of the year to finalize these plans, which means the first clinics won’t open until next year at the very earliest. At the same time, a number of Oregon cities and counties have pushed for bans on psilocybin services — and many of those bans passed in November.
Under Measure 109, psilocybin could only be legally used by people 21 and older in a controlled facility under the supervision of a licensed professional, so people wouldn’t be able to purchase it and take it home.