Youngest member of Umapine 3 pleads guilty to robbery, burglary
By PHIL WRIGHT
Jacob Lee White cut a deal last week that avoids being charged with murder for his role in a home invasion last year in Umapine.
Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus announced the settlement Tuesday.
White, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. Primus in a written statement said White gave the pleas June 25 in circuit court in Pendleton following negotiations the day before.
White was one of three men facing charges in the death of Joyce Key of Umapine. White, Caleb Leon John Scott, 22, and Matthew Raymond Hermann, 21, busted into Keys Umapine home in late January 2013 to rob her, according to the state, then tied her to a kitchen chair, blindfolded and at least one man beat her. The prosecution claims she died months later from complications associated with her injuries.
The defense and prosecution agreed to seal certain conditions of the deal, though public court records show the state dismissed three counts of murder and one count each of second-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery in exchange for Whites plea.
White will not face sentencing until after the cases conclude against Scott and Hermann, Primus said. Scott goes to trial Dec. 2-19, and Hermanns trial is July 7-Aug. 28, 2015. Both men have pleaded not guilty to murder and related charges, and Hermann alone faces multiple counts of aggravated murder, which carries the threat of the death penalty.
Primus said he could not talk about what led his office to drop the murder charges against White because the two co-defendants still face prosecution. He also said he could not reveal if White agreed to testify against Scott and Hermann.
Kara Davis is the attorney representing Scott. She said it was her understanding White would testify against her client, but the district attorneys office has not confirmed that in an official document.
White admitted in writing that on Jan. 29, 2013, he helped Scott and Hermann break into Keys home with the intent to rob the place and Scott and Hermann used physical force on Joyce Key and caused or threatened to cause physical injury to Joyce Key.
White told police Hermann was the ring leader in the plan to rob Keys farm house in the rural community northwest of Milton-Freewater, according to police search warrant affidavits. He also said Scott helped Hermann bind Key to a chair with duct tape.
White also wore a hidden microphone and surveillance wristwatch so police could record a conversation with Scott concerning the attack, according to the documents. Scott denied harming Key and said he did not see Hermann harm her. But Scott recounted Hermann held a rolling pin, the affidavits state, and claimed Key saw his face, so he had to do something about it.
Primus also said the Key family was at his office during the negotiations with White and his attorney, Brendon Alexander of Bend. The Key family declined to comment on the deal.
Contact Phil Wright at email@example.com or 541-966-0833.