MEDFORD, Ore. — After three days of witness testimony, the prosecution and defense delivered their closing arguments Friday morning in the manslaughter trial of 68-year-old Raleigh Rodrigues, and the jury delivered its verdict in a matter of hours.
Returning from deliberations, the jury found Rodrigues not guilty on both counts — Manslaughter in the First Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree.
Rodrigues was accused of causing the death of 25-year-old Kevin Mayo when the two participated in a "road rage" incident on I-5 just south of Medford in December of 2017.
The prosecution delivered its closing arguments on Friday morning, taking aim at Rodrigues' actions leading up to the crash that claimed Mayo's life. Rodrigues, the prosecution said, could have called law enforcement or pulled over instead of engaging with Mayo — further asserting that Rodrigues started the feud by flipping Mayo the middle finger when the younger man passed him on the freeway.
Rodrigues also finished the argument when he swerved toward Mayo and caused the fatal wreck, the prosecution said.
Rodrigues' defense team argued that the 68-year-old was not responsible for Mayo's death, pointing to evidence that Mayo was speeding and lane-splitting on his motorcycle prior to the crash. The defense claimed that Mayo was the one who started the road rage exchange, while Rodrigues did everything he could to de-escalate the situation.
The defense argued that witnesses of the crash weren't lying about what they saw, but were "wrong" nonetheless — shock and terror can change the way someone remembers an incident, the defense said.
After striking Rodrigues' mirror, Mayo was in the older man's blind spot, the defense said, and Rodrigues couldn't see where he was. The defense maintained that this was how the crash occurred.
Wrapping up, Rodrigues' attorneys said that the state had not provided enough evidence to convict their client. They said that the Mayo family wants someone to blame, but Rodrigues is innocent.
With that, the court adjourned and the jury left to begin their deliberations.
Ultimately, the jury determined that Rodrigues was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.