Claiming he was acting in self-defense, a house guest who was naked when he shot his east Medford host was acquitted Thursday on attempted murder and assault charges.
A jury found Charles Bradford Curtis, 54, not guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday of attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon stemming from the shooting of Daniel Joseph Daly on the back patio and hot tub area of Daly’s home in the 4600 block of Eagle Trace Lane.
In the hours leading up to the May 3, 2017, shooting, Curtis had helped Daly build a koi pond, according to Curtis’ lawyer, Christopher Missiaen.
About 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, Diane Rose, then Daly’s girlfriend of more than three decades, came home from work and the couple had an argument over koi fish that had died. Daly reportedly spent about 25 minutes at a nearby bar to “cool off.” (See correction and clarification below)
At about 9 p.m. that night, Daly came home to find Curtis naked in the hot tub with Rose.
Missiaen described Curtis’ nudity as a “personal choice,” and stated that because of low lights and jets, Rose wasn’t aware he was naked in the spa. Rose reportedly expressed fear of Daly’s anger when he drinks, leading Curtis to grab a .38-caliber handgun.
Both sides agreed that Daly angrily jumped into the spa fully clothed and attacked Curtis, according to Missiaen. In an earlier news report Daly stated "I blew my cork" at the sight of Curtis naked with Rose.
Missiaen said Daly dunked Curtis’ head into the water several times, slammed his head on the side of the concrete, threw him out of the tub, punched him at least once with a closed fist and at least twice struck him with an open hand.
Daly counters that he never punched Curtis, just slapped him, dunked Curtis' head twice and never slammed Curtis' head on the concrete. After throwing Curtis out of the spa, Daly said he opened his door and asked Curtis to leave for the first of two times that evening.
Curtis called 911 right away after the attack, as did other neighbors who heard the scuffle.
Curtis and Rose went inside the house for less than three minutes. Daly said he was trying to go to bed, but went out again because he heard commotion on the patio.
Daly said he tried to tell Curtis to gather his things and leave.
“Mr. Curtis feared he was going to be attacked again,” Missiaen said.
Under Oregon law, deadly force is allowed when someone is committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the threat of serious injury, according to Missiaen.
“My argument at trial was that Mr. Daly was about to commit assault in the second degree and coercion,” Missiaen said, elaborating on his argument argument that the concrete on the ground could be used as a weapon.
Daly suffered a gunshot wound to the upper chest that caused “serious, but not life-threatening injuries.” Daly said his arm was shattered in the shooting, and suffered infections and lead poisoning during his recovery.
Curtis, then of New Mexico and now living in Troy, Alabama, had been a down-and-out friend in need of a hand-up, Daly said.
Missiaen said his client was incredibly relieved to be acquitted, especially because three of the charges were Measure 11 crimes that carry mandatory-minimum sentences up to 90 months.
He is now “focused on looking forward,” he said.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.
Correction and Clarification: Shooting victim Dan Daly states he spent less than 25 minutes at a bar, not several hours as printed May 26. Daly denies ever slamming Curtis' head on the concrete or punching him, though he admits he jumped in his spa fully clothed and slapped Curtis before throwing him out of the hot tub. Other details details Daly disputed have been incorporated into the online story.