Man Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ To Fatally Shooting Black Teen In Ashland
A 47-year-old white man pleaded not guilty on Friday to murder, manslaughter and two other charges in the death of a Black teenager outside a hotel in Ashland.
Robert Keegan of Talent has been charged with second-degree murder after police say he shot and killed 19-year-old Aidan Ellison of Ashland on Nov. 23.
Police say Keegan had been arguing with Ellison in the early morning hours over playing music too loudly in the Stratford Inn parking lot where they were both guests.
Many Black leaders in the Rogue Valley say racism and implicit bias likely led to the shooting.
“When you have that kind of power dynamic between a white man, who is used to receiving some level of authority, and a young black boy who lives in society where his existence is automatically assumed as a threat, there's just no way that race could not have played a factor into that,” says Kayla Wade of the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity, a grassroots nonprofit.
A few dozen people gathered for a vigil at the Stratford Inn parking lot on Thanksgiving. Another vigil is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 2, in front of the Jackson County Courthouse. Ellison's mother, Andrea Wofford of Klamath Falls, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser.
In a statement posted on the social app Nextdoor, Ashland Mayor-elect Julie Akins wrote “it is past time we take stock of systemic racism which continues to cause the death of our brothers and sisters of color.”
“It’s not a coincidence that a white man, according to police, chose to take the life of a young black man for the offense of playing his music,” Akins wrote. "This is at the root of racism."
Keegan is being held at the Jackson County Jail without bail until his next court appearance in late February.