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Press Release

Pendleton Man Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison for Vehicular Homicide

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

Vehicular Homicide Occurred on the Umatilla Indian Reservation

PORTLAND, Ore. –Today, Roberto Medellin, 54, of Pendleton, was sentenced 21months in prison by U. S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty for vehicular homicide. On December 10, 2012, the defendant pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Judge Haggerty ordered the defendant to spend three years on supervised release after he is released from the Bureau of Prisons. As conditions of supervised release, the defendant must not possess or consume alcohol. Judge Haggerty ordered the defendant to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on May 2, 2013.

“This case is another tragic reminder that drinking and driving kills,” stated U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “Vehicular homicide is a serious crime with long lasting consequences for families and communities. My office will vigilantly prosecute these cases in Indian Country.”

According to the prosecutor’s statements in court, on May 14, 2012, on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, defendant Roberto Medellin was driving his jeep on a highway in which Misty Dawn Sheoships, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, was a front seat passenger. Medellin’s vehicle went off the highway, crashed into a ditch, and Sheoships died as a result due to severe head and neck trauma. Witnesses called 911 to report the crash.

In a mirandized statement, Medellin said that he had been drinking earlier in the afternoon, prior to going out driving with Sheoships, and that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. He also said, in essence, that he knew he was too tired to continue driving and should have pulled over to rest. Medellin was taken to the hospital due to complaints of body stiffness and just under two hours following the crash, a hospital blood draw revealed that defendant’s blood alcohol content was still 0.096, which is in excess of the legal driving limit of 0.08.

The federal case was investigated by the Umatilla Tribal Police Department and the FBI’s office in Pendleton, Oregon. Assistant U. S. Attorney Craig Gabriel prosecuted the case.

Updated January 29, 2015