MEDFORD, Ore. — More than three years after Kevin Mayo died in an apparent road rage incident on I-5 near Medford, a trial for the man accused of causing his death is now underway.
In December of 2017, the 25-year-old Mayo was riding on a motorcycle, heading northbound on I-5. Just south of Exit 27, Mayo and 65-year-old Raleigh Rodrigues — the latter driving a pickup truck — began feuding as they each traveled north toward Medford. According to police, Rodrigues then swerved into Mayo's lane, causing the younger man to crash into the median.
Mayo was taken to the hospital, but he later died of his injuries.
Though police arrested Rodrigues at the scene on manslaughter charges, he was not indicted by a grand jury until February of 2018. His first appearance in court occurred in late March. Rodrigues posted his $250,000 bail and has been out on release.
After those first several months, a trial in the case was delayed multiple times over the next several years. Mayo's family has been pushing for justice in the case ever since his death, and they've openly discussed the toll that the seemingly interminable wait took on them.
"It's been three and a half years of nothing but torture for our entire family," Chris Mayo, Kevin's father, told NewsWatch 12 last week. "It's been cruel dealing with 13 continuances. We are just happy that finally we can get some justice for Kevin."
On Tuesday, Rodrigues' trial began, unfolding under the unusual circumstances of a court transfigured by COVID-19 precautions — masked attorneys, no viewing public, and jury members spaced throughout the gallery.
In opening arguments, the prosecution asserted that Rodrigues slammed his truck into Mayo's motorcycle, causing the crash and his subsequent death. The defense said that Mayo was driving "aggressively and dangerously," placing responsibility for the crash onto his actions that day.
The first several witnesses brought with them video of the lead-up and the aftermath of the fatal crash. First, a trooper from Oregon State Police trooper went through the dashcam video of his interactions with witnesses at the scene as other first responders worked to save Mayo.
FedEx truck driver Nick White delivered emotional testimony about witnessing the crash, accompanied by the dashcam video from his truck. White testified that his route regularly takes him by the site, and he constantly thinks about the events. He described seeing Rodrigues' truck swerve into the fast lane where Mayo was driving, sending the younger man careening into the cable chains that line the median.
After the FedEx driver's testimony, the judge called for a recess until Wednesday morning. It is expected to be a three-day trial.
Rodrigues faces two charges: Manslaughter in the First Degree, and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. While both charges allege that Rodrigues caused Mayo's death "unlawfully and recklessly," the former charge adds that he did so "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life." If convicted, Rodrigues could serve up to 10 years in prison.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.