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Legal Matters: January trial set in Joe Keeton death

By Stephen Floyd

A January trial has been set for a Bend woman accused of negligently causing the fatal dog mauling of a former Silverton man over the summer.

Jessica Rae McCleery, 38, was given a trial date of Jan. 9, 2024, during an appearance Nov. 7 in Deschutes County Circuit Court, with the trial expected to last eight days.

During the same appearance McCleery, whose legal last name is Charity, entered pleas of not guilty to first-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. If convicted, she faces at least 10 years in prison.

Three dogs owned by McCleery fatally mauled Joe Keeton, 56, on July 19 at a homeless encampment outside Bend where both were living. 

According to The Bend Bulletin, prosecutors claim the dogs had previously attacked multiple people who then required hospitalization, and had also killed multiple animals. Prosecutors argued McCleery knew of her dogs’ violent history but still left them unattended at the encampment.

McCleery remains held in the Deschutes County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

On Nov. 1 she filed a motion to be released to live with a friend in Hawaii where she claims she would be safe and sober, and could return to Oregon for in-person court appearances. The friend identified in the motion was interviewed by The Bend Bulletin in October and described herself as a long-time friend of McCleery who is raising McCleery’s five-year-old son.

A custody hearing is scheduled for the day before the trial, Jan. 8, 2024.

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