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Derrick Earl Shields

Georgia man sentenced in robbery of marijuana grower

A Georgia man wanted for murder in Philadelphia has been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for his role in the brutal beating and home-invasion robbery of a licensed Southern Oregon marijuana grower.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge David Hoppe imposed the maximum allowable sentence Friday after a jury found Derrick Earl Shields, 28, guilty of first-degree burglary and aggravated theft earlier this month.

With numerous men involved in the December 2016 night-time robbery and a pillowcase over the victim’s head blocking his view of the perpetrators, the jury could not be sure who did what and acquitted Shields on robbery and assault charges.

Jurors did not hear information about Shields’ history of crime or that he is wanted in Philadelphia. However, Hoppe was allowed under Oregon law to consider Shields’ past convictions when imposing a sentence.

“The jury should have been able to know more about the defendant,” victim James Bowman said after Shields was sentenced.

But Bowman said he is grateful the judge imposed the longest prison sentence possible.

He noted several defendants are still facing charges from the robbery.

“It’s keeping me from going forward with my life, but at the same time, it’s just part of the process. I have confidence in the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. I’m trying to be a good team player,” Bowman said of the case that has brought him together with Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Marco Boccato and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jason Penn, the lead investigator.

Before Shields serves his Oregon prison sentence, he will likely be extradited to Philadelphia because of a warrant accusing him of murder and robbery in the shooting death of Timothy Manning, 30, in spring 2017 — a few months after the attack on Bowman.

Philadelphia police found Manning collapsed on the side of a highway with a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to police there.

Shields has been named a suspect in the case, which is still under investigation by the police agency’s homicide division, according to Philadelphia police.

Boccato said he would not oppose Shields’ extradition to Philadelphia.

Extraditing Shields will allow prosecutors there to pursue their case in a timely manner, Boccato said.

Delaying the prosecution of cases can lead to problems. For example, witnesses’ memories can fade, or witnesses may die, Boccato said.

Boccato said justice needs to be had in both the Southern Oregon and Philadelphia cases.

Shields’ past criminal history includes convictions for aggravated assault, possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime, battery, first-degree criminal damage, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug-related objects, according to a memorandum by Boccato to the judge.

After the aggravated assault with a handgun in 2012, Shields was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for time served, but was out of prison and on probation at the time Bowman was brutally beaten and robbed in 2016, according to the memorandum.

During his sentencing Friday, Shields offered a brief statement.

He said what happened to Bowman was very unfortunate and he hopes Bowman recovers from his physical and mental injuries.

Shields insisted he wasn’t involved.

“I wouldn’t have come to Oregon if I knew this was going to happen, and if I knew it was going to happen, I would have tried to stop it,” Shields said.

None of the co-defendants so far have been convicted of assault.

Bocatto has argued that local men teamed up with members of a Georgia-based gang in a scheme to rob Bowman of cash and marijuana at his farm, BlueSky Gardens.

When Bowman could not produce the cash the men believed was at the farm, they attacked him with a butane torch, power drill, golf club, crowbar, firewood and more, then doused him with cold water and left him tied up in frigid winter temperatures, according to Bowman’s testimony.

Employees who arrived in the morning discovered Bowman and called 911. He was hospitalized for several days with broken bones and other injuries.

Bowman lost his marijuana farm and has lingering injuries.

During his sentencing, Shields was ordered to pay restitution, an amount yet to be determined, to Bowman.

But like other co-defendants in the case, Shields plans to dispute that he owes any restitution, according to his defense attorney, Zachary Light.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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