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Dog owner indicted in Joe Keeton death

By Stephen Floyd

A Bend woman has been indicted for manslaughter after her three dogs mauled a former Silverton man to death in July and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Jessica Rae Charity, 38, was indicted Friday, Sept. 15, in Deschutes County Circuit Court on charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally-negligent homicide for the July 19 death of Joe Keeton, 56.

The indictment accused Charity of “unlawfully and recklessly” causing Keeton’s death. Court records did not detail the specific acts or omissions that allegedly made her responsible for the killing.

A spokesperson for the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office told Our Town they were not able to discuss the facts underlying the charges at this time.

If convicted as charged, Charity faces at least 75 months in prison under Measure 11 sentencing guidelines.

A $100,000 warrant was issued for her arrest and on Monday, Sept. 18, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Wall confirmed authorities were still actively searching for Charity. Wall referred additional questions regarding the case to the DA’s office.

The dog attack occurred at a homeless encampment at Juniper Ridge, northeast of Bend, where both Keeton and Charity were living. Just prior to this Keeton had lived in Silverton for five years.

At around 1:15 a.m. on July 19, deputies were dispatched to an unknown disturbance at the encampment and found Keeton severely injured by a dog attack. First responders attempted life-saving efforts and transported Keeton to St. Charles Bend where he was pronounced deceased.

Three pitbull/mastiff mixes owned by Charity were suspected in the attack and she cooperated with authorities, including assisting in crating the dogs.

Wall initially told The Bend Bulletin Charity may be charged with maintaining a dangerous dog, a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Subsequent investigation revealed alleged evidence of more serious crimes, leading prosecutors to file Monday’s indictment.

The dogs were taken to BrightSide Animal Center, in Redmond, and the DA’s Office confirmed Monday the dogs were still alive. A spokesperson said whether or not the dogs would be put down depended on civil procedures separate from the criminal case.

Charity was previously charged with a dog-related offense in Deschutes County in 2015 and convicted of second-degree animal neglect for failing to provide minimum care for a female pitbull. She was barred from owning a pet for five years, but court records and social media posts indicate she continued to own and breed pitbull/mastiff mixes during this time.

Other convictions included two separate charges of possession of methamphetamine that same year.

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