Prineville man gets 10 years in shooting death

Plea deal reached after primary witness lied to investigators

By Aubrey Wieber, The Bulletin

PRINEVILLE — After killing a man over a bad methamphetamine deal, a Prineville man was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Michael Cory Donovan, 26, was in Crook County Circuit Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced for the shooting death of James Ross Scott, 39.

Donovan was originally charged with murder but pleaded to first-degree manslaughter and attempted first-degree assault due to a plea deal reached after the state’s primary witness — Scott’s girlfriend — proved unreliable and elusive.

“Kindr Bork, who was the passenger and another victim in this case … we’ve had difficulty contacting her,” Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins said. “When she was first contacted by police officers at the scene of the crime, she told a story that frankly was not believable.”

Donovan was arrested after shooting Scott on a rural road outside of Prineville in 2015. Bork and Scott met Donovan at the Prineville 7-Eleven at 3 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2015. Scott sold Donovan and his friends fake meth, according to Vitolins’ recounting of events. Donovan and his friends went home and did the meth, realized it was fake and left to find Scott to either get their money back or get real drugs, Vitolins said.

They encountered Scott and Bork pulled off on the side of the road in the Juniper Canyon area, and Donovan shot at the vehicle several times, killing Scott. Bork was uninjured.

Under the plea deal, Donovan will get 75 months for manslaughter and 45 months for the attempted assault of Bork. Credit for the roughly 18 months he has spent in jail will be applied to both convictions. Following prison, he will have three years of post-prison supervision. He also will be ordered to pay $20,694 in restitution, $16,550 going to Dave Scott — Scott’s father — and the rest going to the county and a property owner for damage Donovan did after driving away from the scene.

The 75-month sentence for manslaughter falls under Measure 11, Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing law for violent offenses, making that time ineligible for early release due to good behavior or participation in jail programs. Per the plea agreement, 25 of the 45-month sentence for the attempted assault will also be ineligible for early release.

Bork originally told the police that the initial encounter with Donovan consisted of a verbal altercation after Donovan and his friends made sexual comments toward her. When police told her they found meth in Scott’s vehicle and in his system, Bork admitted Scott sold Donovan and his friends fake meth. When confronted with witness statements claiming she was holding a gun when Donovan and his friends drove up to her and Scott in Juniper Canyon, Bork admitted to having a realistic-looking fake pistol, Vitolins said.

“When they were confronted by the defendant, she jumped out of the vehicle and brandished this firearm at Mr. Donovan and the other occupants of his vehicle,” Vitolins said. “And so that was an issue as well in this case, that she didn’t admit that at first, and it eventually came out as part of the evidence in this case.”

In court, Vitolins said Bork’s inconsistent statements, coupled with her unknown whereabouts, led to the prosecution agreeing to the plea deal. Donovan’s attorney, Thaddeus Betz, said negotiations started during a Feb. 13 settlement conference.

“So I am sorry that Mr. Scott’s family won’t find any satisfaction in this result,” Vitolins said. “I believe that it was in the best interest of all the parties to resolve this case in this manner.”

Betz said upon learning from the police that Scott had died, Donovan started crying and since has continued to express remorse. He said Donovan was not trying to kill anyone and reacted to Bork’s brandishing of the fake gun.

Dave Scott did offer a victim’s impact statement in court, but it consisted of little more than saying Donovan should receive life in prison.

“I got a lot of words, but I can’t get them out,” a distraught Dave Scott said.

In an interview with The Bulletin after the hearing, Dave Scott, 62, elaborated.

“Shooting somebody, it doesn’t matter, he should have got life,” Dave Scott said.

However, Dave Scott admitted his son played a role in his death as well, and had long suffered with drug issues. He said his son was mostly clean for the two years leading up to his death but struggled to stay away from others who were using.

“One Saturday night he went to party, and I wasn’t there to say, ‘Hey, stop it,’” Dave Scott said.

Judge Daniel Ahern spoke about the case before sentencing Donovan, saying while the crime was the killing of a man, the violence stemmed from meth, an epidemic he sees daily working as a judge in Jefferson and Crook counties.

“If there continues to be this demand for meth, that people meet strangers at 7-Eleven parking lots at 3 in the morning and then somehow are shocked by the quality of the product they are buying, anybody from the outside looking in just realizes how ridiculous the whole thing is,” Ahern said. “And unfortunately for your sake, you’re paying the price for it.”

­— Reporter: 541-383-0376, awieber@bendbulletin.com

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