Warm Springs men get 24 years in beating death

Jefferson County sheriff reacts to sentence

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 3:44 PM PDT June 11, 2013    UPDATED: 8:46 AM PDT June 12, 2013 
MADRAS, Ore. -

Two Warm springs men were sentenced to 24 years in prison Tuesday for the beating death of a Seattle fisherman whose body was found in an abandoned railroad tunnel near Warm Springs just over a year ago, Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche said.

Circuit Judge Annette Hillman imposed the sentences on Steven Neal Anderson Jr., 24, and James Ryan Johnson, 32, in the May 29 killing of Dennis Michael Jones, whose body was found near Mecca Flats Campground, a popular fishing spot just south of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said it was cooperation with the tribes of Warm Springs and his detectives that led to the arrest.

"Without that cooperation," Adkins said, "evidence would not have been collected and the suspects would have been at large longer."

Leriche said both men apologized to Jones' family before pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter and kidnap charges and receiving the 24-year prison terms, with no possibility of early release.

Adkins said, "24 years I think is a pretty good deal for them for the loss of this person's life. But that's the society that we work in. I'm really glad they don't have the possibility good time or early release."

The two men originally were arrested on murder and manslaughter charges, and the DA said the case was resolved without trial in a settlement conference held by Hillman. Attorney Dave Glenn represented Anderson and Thomas Spear Jr. represented Johnson.

Jones, originally of Portland, "was much beloved by his family," Leriche said in a statement, "and his three brothers, his sister and mother traveled from Portland to Madras for the hearing." He also said the family "supported the resolution of the case.

Leriche thanked the Jefferson and Deschutes County sheriff's offices, Warm Springs Police Department, Oregon State Police and its crime lab, and the State Medical Examiner's Office "for their tireless work and professional investigation, which resulted in the apprehension of the defendants within two days of the homicide and ultimately these convictions."