A homeless man accused of attacking a 16-year-old girl and stealing her cellphone two months ago in Roseburg was convicted Tuesday of robbery, but acquitted of attempted rape and attempted sex abuse.
The trial, which was initially scheduled for two days, carried over into four days before Douglas County Circuit Court jurors found Michael Allen Wheeler, 36, guilty of third-degree robbery.
The jury of eight women and two men were unable to agree on a verdict for one charge of interfering with making a police report.
Deputy District Attorney Jodee Jackson said she has until Monday to decide if she will seek a retrial on the one charge.
She declined to comment on the jury’s verdict.
Wheeler was accused of trying to rape the girl after she let him borrow her cellphone at about 5:45 p.m. April 10 on the railroad tracks near Mill Street.
During the trial, the defense claimed the teen was the aggressor and had been following Wheeler earlier that day, looking for drugs.
Wheeler’s court-appointed defense attorney Cadence Whiteley said that the teen attacked Wheeler from behind by hitting him in the head with the butt of a knife and demanded his drugs.
She said Wheeler picked up the phone, which fell on the ground, to call for help and ran away and that the teen chased him, threatening to tell police that he tried to rape her.
Efforts to reach Whitely after the jury’s verdict were unsuccessful.
The teen testified that she doesn’t take drugs and had never seen Wheeler before. She said Wheeler approached her while she was walking to a store and asked if he could use her cellphone. After she allowed him to use her phone, Wheeler attacked her, she said.
She said she hit him in the head with the butt of a pocketknife until he let go and she broke free and dialed 911. The girl said Wheeler then ran up behind her and slapped the phone out of her hand and ran off with it.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.