Ore. inmate who tried to kill cellmate found insane

The attacked cellmate recounts being saved by CO who interfered

By Nick Morgan
Mail Tribune

MEDFORD, Ore.  A Medford man was sentenced to be institutionalized Friday after he admitted to attempting to kill his jail cellmate earlier this year.

James Jay Parker was found guilty but insane of attempted murder after admitting in Jackson County Circuit Court that he attempted to kill fellow inmate Michael Alan Hill on Jan. 16. Parker was sentenced to the custody of the Oregon Psychiatric Review Board for 20 years, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Laura Cromwell, who prosecuted the case.

Hill provided rambling testimony of his encounter with Parker. Hill said he remembered Parker asking him, "Are you afraid?" Hill said he was then thrown across the cell and onto the concrete floor near a toilet.

The next thing Hill remembered was waking up in the hospital with tubes in his mouth, he told the court. Hill was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. He had a 3-inch laceration on the back of his head and bruising around his neck, according to court documents.

"I was happy to be in the hospital," Hill said. "I was no longer in jail."

Hill expressed gratitude to the guard who stepped in and prevented Parker from strangling him with a bed sheet. Hill promised to name his next child after the guard.

"He saved me," Hill said.

Before the attack, Parker had been in jail for four days on charges he killed his dog while under the delusion that it had "bad juju" tied to his ex-wife. The charge of aggravated animal abuse was dropped as part of the plea agreement. Cromwell asked that the firearm used to kill the dog be forfeited.

Parker's court-appointed defense attorney, Michael Bertholf, said that in the months since the attack, Parker has undergone treatment for his delusions.

"Since he's been on medications, he's been very remorseful," Bertholf said.

Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia referenced a sealed report from clinical psychologist Les Goldman before finding Parker guilty but insane.

"I am aware you were quite delusional," Mejia said. "It's very scary, so I urge you to stay on your medications for the rest of your life."

Hill pleaded guilty Friday to stealing a bicycle in Ashland and for a string of crimes targeted at his brother in August. He admitted he broke into his brother's home Aug. 5, collected more than $1,000 in property and drove off in his brother's vehicle. He also admitted to throwing rocks at his brother and his vehicle Aug. 16.

Cromwell also prosecuted Hill's case. After the court hearing, Cromwell said Hill declined an offer to enter his case into mental health court to resolve the mental health issues at the core of his crimes.

“My wish for Michael Alan Hill is that he would’ve gone into mental health court,” Cromwell said. “He chose not to.”

Hill was sentenced to two years' supervised probation, was barred from contacting his brother and must seek mental health treatment, Cromwell said. If he violates his probation, he will serve 18 months in prison.

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