'You're a very dangerous person'

'You're a very dangerous person'

An Eagle Point man who shot a car salesman during a botched robbery attempt was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Tim Barnack did not mince words as he told Clayton Emil Huff, who opted not to apologize for his crimes during sentencing, that he was a danger to this community.

"You're a very dangerous person," Barnack said. "You're the kind of guy we cannot have walking around. I've got to max you out with as much time as I can give you."

After a three-day trial featuring testimony from more than 30 witnesses, jurors on April 15 found Huff, 51, not guilty of trying to kill Robert Joe Johnson, 33. But jurors unanimously found him guilty of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and first-degree robbery, all Measure 11 charges related to Huff's shooting Johnson in the abdomen at point-blank range while attempting to steal a Ford Mustang. The jury also found Huff guilty of second-degree attempted kidnapping and attempting to elude police in a vehicle.

Barnack sentenced Huff to 90 months each for the first-degree assault and first-degree robbery charges for a total of 180 months. Huff must pay $75,000 in restitution for Johnson's medical expenses and repairs to the vehicle, Barnack said. Prison time on the remaining charges was minimal and was merged into the two consecutive Measure 11 sentences. Huff also must serve three years on post-prison supervision upon his release.

Johnson apologized to Huff's family for their pain. He has not lived a perfect life himself, Johnson said. But he said he "could very easily have died that day," and expressed hope that Huff would use the time in prison to reflect and repent.

"I hope he finds peace in his heart," Johnson said. "Remorse, maybe. And becomes a better person."

Barnack said he had personally experienced the terror of having "a gun pointed to my gut" when he lived in Portland.

The judge said he'd tried to get inside Huff's head during the trial, and noted that Huff had been at the Rogue Valley Mall shortly before the robbery attempt and shooting. Huff had lost his job and home, and gave away most of his possessions before arming himself with two handguns and six clips of ammunition and walking to downtown Medford, Barnack said.

"You were a stick of dynamite," Barnack said. "If anyone had lit that match, you would have exploded on them."

Huff showed little emotion as Barnack expressed his opinions and handed down his sentence.

"I believe I said everything on the stand," Huff said.

Huff's attorney, Laurance Parker, objected to Barnack's comments, and also requested a mistrial based on two points of law. Parker argued the jury did not properly follow instructions in filling out their verdict forms, and prosecutor Terry Smith-Norton improperly advised jurors to infer Huff was guilty based on his silence at the hospital the day of the incident.

Barnack denied both requests, saying they were matters for the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors Smith-Norton and Nick Geil expressed gratitude for the jurors' verdicts and the judge's sentence.

"Mr. Huff is going away for a long time," Smith-Norton said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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