MEDFORD, Ore. — The manslaughter trial arising from a fatal crash near Medford in 2017 neared its conclusion on Thursday with the third and final day of witness testimony.
68-year-old Raleigh Rodrigues faces manslaughter charges for allegedly causing the death of 25-year-old Kevin Mayo in a road rage incident in December of 2017. After more than three years, the trial began on Tuesday.
Oregon State Police senior trooper Jeff Walker testified Wednesday regarding his observations of the scene following the crash. The trooper said that Rodrigues' pickup truck showed evidence of contact with Mayo's motorcycle — indicating that Rodrigues had actually struck Mayo immediately before the crash that claimed the younger man's life.
The OSP investigation found that Rodrigues crossed over into Mayo's lane while swerving toward him, Walker testified. Troopers concluded that Rodrigues was "at fault" in the crash, though Mayo assumed partial responsibility for contributing to the road rage exchange that preceded the crash.
With the final testimony on Thursday, the state rested its case against Rodrigues, allowing the defense to call their witnesses.
First for the defense was Rodrigues himself. An emotional Rodrigues testified that he had lived in the Phoenix-Talent area since 1964, working as a maintenance supervisor before more recently becoming semi-retired. On the day of the crash, Rodrigues said that he had been fixing his daughter's car, and drove out to pick up supplies at O'Reilly's in South Medford.
Rodrigues said that he and Mayo had no interactions until Mayo passed him, and he flipped Mayo the middle finger. Apparently seeing the gesture, Rodrigues said that Mayo came back to him, "shaking his fist." Rodrigues, shaking his fist in return, said that he swerved toward Mayo's motorcycle in the fast lane and came back — calling it, in hindsight, "a dumb thing to do."
After the first swerve, Rodrigues said that Mayo moved closer, hitting the mirror on Rodrigues' pickup truck. The defendant said he found it "hard to tell" what happened after that. Rodrigues testified that he though Mayo had returned to his own lane, and that he didn't know that stepping on his brake would cause Mayo's death.
Following Rodrigues' testimony, the defense called two experts to analyze the crash.
When proceedings wrapped on Thursday, it marked the end of witness testimony. When the trial resumes on Friday, the prosecution and defense will deliver their closing arguments before the jury goes to deliberations.