Jury finds Purple Parrot robber guilty

Jury finds Purple Parrot robber guilty

A man who went on a shooting spree in downtown Medford after committing a bungled robbery at a Purple Parrot store was found guilty of attempted aggravated murder.

A Jackson County Circuit Court jury on Thursday found Brandon Lee Gillespie, 21, of Eagle Point, guilty of attempted aggravated murder and first-degree assault and robbery, said Beth Heckert, chief deputy district attorney for Jackson County.

Gillespie will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Ray White at a later date. The mandatory sentence for the most serious crime (attempted aggravated murder) is 10 years in prison.

Medford police arrested Gillespie for the July 9 botched robbery of a Purple Parrot store during which Gillespie chased a fleeing customer, shooting at the man with a TEC-9 assault pistol.

Wearing a colorful beach towel around his waist like a sarong, Gillespie entered the store at 828 S. Central Ave. He was ordering a male clerk and a female customer to comply with his demands when a male patron entered the store.

When the male customer refused to comply with Gillespie's demands to return to the store, Gillespie pointed his gun at the man's head and chest and pulled the trigger mulitple times, Heckert said. The gun misfired, but Gillespie "fully expected the gun to go off," she added.

Gillespie pursued the man south on Central Avenue and fired a volley of shots from his pistol. The customer escaped, and Gillespie fled west across Riverside Avenue, firing more rounds, which were later collected as evidence, Heckert said.

In closing arguments, Heckert reminded the 10 women and two men on the jury that Gillespie had entered the back door of the store wearing a mask and wielding a gun.

Gillespie himself had stated his intent was to "get power over people and get money instantaneously," she said.

Gillespie's defense attorney, Paul Beneke, described his client as a "punk" and a "bad ass," who had exhibited "senseless, violent and despicable behavior" while wielding his "hand cannon."

Beneke conceded his client had committed crimes, but not those for which he was charged. He said Gillespie had not fired at the fleeing customer — instead firing into the ground or away from the victim. And Gillespie had not harmed anyone in the store, or stolen any money from the Purple Parrot, he added.

Gillespie was originally charged with first-degree robbery, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree attempted assault, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, seven counts of unlawful use of a weapon and felony possession of a weapon. Gillespie pleaded guilty to the possession charge before the start of this week's two-day trial.

Surveillance videos and other evidence helped Medford police nab Gillespie, who was out on parole at the time of the crimes.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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