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District Attorney orders jail and probation time for James Keith in Fairview assault

MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  - James Keith James Keith of Portland was sentenced to six months in jail and 24 months of probation for the assault and choking of his 85-year-old mother in Fairview on July 4 of this year, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

The assault occurred at Keith's mother's Fairview residence less than a month after a judge ordered him to not have any contact with her.

"Just weeks prior to this assault, because of his escalating and alarming behavior, the court ordered Mr. Keith not to have any contact with his mother, but he completely disregarded that order and viciously attacked his mother," said Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kate Molina, who prosecuted the case. "He purposefully took advantage of someone who is particularly vulnerable. The state has significant concerns for the safety of the community and Mr. Keith's mother."

A jury convicted Keith, 57, on Oct. 30, 2019, of one count of fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence and one count of felony strangulation constituting domestic violence.

This investigation started on Aug. 31, when the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of an assault. At trial, the state proved that Keith, without provocation, approached his mother in her kitchen and placed both hands around her throat, the district attorney's office reported.

The victim told law enforcement she was unable to breathe for about 20 seconds, the attack caused severe pain and she feared that Keith was going to kill her.

In this case, a neighbor called 911 on behalf of the victim. While being contacted by a deputy, Keith opened a beer can and started drinking it, according to trial testimony. Law enforcement learned that Keith threatened to burn down the neighbor's house if the incident was reported.

At trial, law enforcement officers testified that the victim is extremely frail and is a vulnerable person.

On June 27, Keith was formally served with an Elderly Persons and Persons with Disability Abuse Prevention Act, which was intended to prevent him from contacting his mother and from coming within 150 feet of her residence in Fairview. On July 4, Keith knowingly went to his mother's residence in violation of the protection order.

The court found him in contempt on Oct. 16 of violating the restraining order and sentenced Keith to six months in jail. He will have to serve the entire jail sentence day-for-day unless his probation officer deems him eligible for early release for housing or treatment, Underhill said.

On the felony strangulation case, the court put Keith on 24 months of formal probation. Keith will be supervised by the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice's Domestic Violence Unit, will not be allowed to have contact with his mother and cannot go within 150 feet of any location that she frequents, such as a doctor's office. Furthermore, Keith will have to complete any drug and alcohol treatment, program, classes and counseling that is ordered and must remain offense-free while on probation.

If he violates any part of his probation, he could be sentenced to an additional 10 months in prison, the district attorney's office reported.

Committed to ending family abuse, the Multnomah County domestic violence unit engages in evidence-based prosecution of domestic violence, emphasizing the importance of victim advocacy services for victims and their children. Even when a prosecutor decides to proceed with a case without a victim's participation, every effort is made to offer the victim advocacy services from available resources.

The Elderly Persons and Persons with Disability Abuse Prevention Act was passed in 1995 to protect the elderly and those with disabilities.

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office recognizes MCSO Deputy Mark Farmer for his dedicated efforts investigating this case and Multnomah County victim advocate Emma Kane for the advocacy and support she provided the victim and her family throughout this case, Underhill said.

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