Medford cops thwart jailhouse murder plot

A Jackson County jail inmate is accused of hatching a plot to murder a witness involved in his coming trial for a July 30 shooting at Muchas Gracias on West Main Street in Medford.

Raymond Ranal Williams, 25, was charged with solicitation to commit murder after police learned he asked another inmate to kill a witness.

The investigation showed that Williams made the request to the inmate and then took active steps to ensure the witness was murdered, Medford police said in a news release.

Such talk is not uncommon in jail, but this case seemed to push the limit of an inmate blowing off steam, Medford police Sgt. Scott Clauson said.

"A lot of it is just talk, but this went a step further," Clauson said. "We believe he brought up the issue several times while in jail."

Clauson said the plot never reached the point naming a method or time for the murder. Detectives did learn that possible compensation was discussed, he said.

"We never heard a dollar amount," Clauson said. "It seemed like a street-level thing in which money, guns and drugs would be traded."

Clauson did not comment on the identity of the threatened witness.

"It does lend credibility to this witness' statements, though," Clauson said.

The inmate who came forward was being held on a probation violation and was looking at a 45-day jail stretch. He decided to work with police in the hopes that he would have the jail time cut short.

He didn't realize his probation officer had decided not to pursue jail time for his offense, Clauson said.

"He did the moral and honest thing by coming forward, but he didn't really get what he wanted," Clauson said.

Williams and Julius Anthony Branner, 21, of Central Point, were arrested on charges of attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon linked to the shooting outside the restaurant in July.

Investigators linked the two to an argument that escalated into gunfire at about 3 a.m. on July 30 outside the Muchas Gracias restaurant at 2305 W. Main St., Medford.

An argument had broken out among people in the lot thought to be customers of the restaurant, police said. A man got a gun out of the trunk of a white sedan and fired at least three shots, Medford police said after the incident. The shots hit the restaurant, but caused minimal damage and injured no one.

Clauson said detectives have tracked down all the witnesses in this case and it is expected to go to trial soon.

The soliciting murder charge adds another serious felony and an extra $1 million in bail against Williams. He remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $2 million bail.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail him at cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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