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Legal Matters

Alleged assault leads to high-speed chase

An Aumsville man is facing multiple charges after an alleged domestic violence incident near Silverton resulted in a high-speed pursuit.

Matthew James Rodgers, 33, was arrested May 6 for an incident the previous evening on Hwy. 214 near Silver Falls State Park. Rodgers allegedly strangled a woman, threatened her with a hatchet and damaged her windshield, according to Marion County Circuit Court records.

Police located Rodgers the morning of May 6 in Salem and attempted to initiate contact. Rodgers allegedly fled down I-5 northbound at speeds exceeding 115 mph. His vehicle eventually became stuck in a field outside Wilsonville and after a brief standoff with police he was taken into custody.

Rodgers has been charged with strangulation, fourth-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, second-degree criminal mischief, attempt to elude a police officer and reckless driving. As of press time he remained held in the Marion County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bail bond.

New charges after alleged assault, stalking

A Beaverton man with a history of domestic violence is facing prison after allegedly assaulting a Mount Angel woman then threatening her from jail.

Patrick Phillip Laird, 36, was arrested April 11 for alleged incidents occurring since March. According to Marion County Circuit Court records, Laird allegedly caused minor injuries to the victim on March 12 and strangled her April 1. Then Laird allegedly violated a protection order April 4 including threatening the victim and warning her  not call police.

After his arrest, Laird allegedly contacted the victim from the Marion County Jail in separate incidents April 12, 13 and 26, threatening to harm her or her family if she did not change her testimony.

Laird is charged in separate cases with attempted fourth-degree assault (two counts), attempted strangulation, coercion, and tampering with a witness (four counts). As of press time he remained in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

On April 15 prosecutors filed notice of intent to seek an enhanced sentence for factors including a lack of remorse, the ineffectiveness of prior sentences and threats to public safety.

Laird’s convictions date back to 2006 and include unlawful use of a weapon, assault, coercion, strangulation, first-degree burglary, witness tampering and vandalism. He pleaded guilty March 25 in Coos County to second-degree invasion of personal privacy for secretly recording a nude female athlete at Coquille High in December of 2023.

2 1/2  year sentence in vehicular assault case 

A Silverton woman has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to causing a vehicle collision that injured four people last year.

Sierra Gemini James, 28, pleaded guilty May 3 in Marion County Circuit Court to third-degree assault (three counts), fourth-degree assault, reckless driving and reckless endangering.

She was sentenced to 30 months in prison with eligibility for early release and 24 months of post-prison supervision, as well as a five-year driver’s license suspension.

According to court records, James was traveling westbound on Hwy. 22 near Mill City on May 25, 2023, when she attempted to change lanes at high speed and overcorrected, striking a westbound pickup. The pickup entered the oncoming lane then drove down an embankment into a tree, causing serious injuries to three occupants and minor injuries to a fourth.

Neither James nor her four-year-old, who was in the backseat, were injured.

James’ attorney requested probation rather than prison. A May 2 sentencing memo noted James feels remorse and “realizes she could have killed someone, including her daughter.” Judge Natasha Zimmerman imposed the 30-month sentence recommended by prosecutors.

$50K in alleged property theft from older woman

A Willamina woman is facing local charges after allegedly stealing more than $50,000 in personal property from an elderly Silverton woman.

Joan Renee Anderson-Varner, 61, was charged April 29 in Marion County Circuit Court for alleged offenses occurring April 26.

According to court records, Anderson-Varner entered a residence on the 300 block of Monson Road NE and allegedly stole more than $50,000 in property belonging to a victim age 65 or older. Anderson-Varner then allegedly called 911 and provided false information about the incident, said court records.

She is charged with aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree burglary and initiating a false report. If convicted, Anderson-Varner faces up to 20 years in prison on the highest count.

— Stephen Floyd

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