ALBANY, Ore. – Two teenagers charged with assaulting a Lebanon man with cerebral palsy are pleading not guilty.
Jesse Jay Jimenez, 19, of Lebanon, and Trevin Michael King, 17, of Salem, were arrested several months ago after police responded to a 911 call on Aug. 5 saying a man was bleeding in a Lebanon parking lot, unconscious.
That man was Ron Whitehead of Lebanon, who according to his family, is still in a coma.
“He’s the last person to deserve something like this,” said Whitehead’s niece, Maria Wise-Toney.
Jimenez appeared in court Monday morning after he was charged by indictment. King did not appear, though his attorney was present to represent the 17-year-old.
Linn County’s District Attorney Doug Marteeny says both teens are being charged with Robbery I and Assault II. Investigators say the teens also stole Whitehead’s bike, but both defendants have entered pleas of not-guilty. The next step is a settlement conference.
“That’s when the judge acts as a bit of a mediator to see if there’s any resolution that can be reached between the parties,” Marteeny said. “And if not, then it gets set for trial.”
Whitehead’s family members say though they are paying attention to the case, they say they have faith in the justice system. Their focus now is on Ron.
“He’s in a coma still,” Wise-Toney said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. It’s hard.”
Wise-Toney says Whitehead hasn’t left the hospital since August and is still unresponsive. She says he is currently at a specialized trauma center in Portland, and doctors still aren’t sure if he will recover.
“We have to have hope for him,” she said. “We have to be strong for him.”
She says she anticipates the medical bills to already be at $100,000, but the bills continue to rack up. So the family put together a medical fund. For donations, checks can be made out to the Ron Whitehead Medical Fund at Willamette Community Bank under Alan Wise’s name. The family has also set up a Facebook page called “Justice for Ron Whitehead,” and has an online medical fund as well, where donors can pay through PayPal.
King and Jimenez will have a settlement conference next, which is set for Nov. 6 at the Linn County Courthouse.