Two charged with assault, kidnapping

Two men face felony assault and kidnapping charges after Jackson County sheriff's investigators say they say captured a teenager, bound and beat him and told him to dig a hole before letting him go.

Nicholas R. Jackson, 33, of Medford and Kekai K. Kuehu, 30, of Ashland, are being held in Jackson County Jail on charges of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that two 17-year-old males were walking in the area of Meridian Road, Eagle Point, between 3 and 4 a.m. on Nov. 19 when a shotgun was fired. Both juveniles ran, but one was captured.

He was taken into a residence that is registered as a growing site for medical marijuana and his hands and feet were bound with packaging tape and rope, the news release said. He eventually was strapped into a wheelchair, covered with a blanket and left in a bathroom for several hours.

A second man arrived and began questioning and beating the teen with a wooden stick.

The news release did not say which man was accused of tying up or beating the teen. At some point the teen was taken out to the back yard and asked to dig a hole in the ground meant to represent a grave, according to the sheriff's department. The men then stole the boy's shoes and made him walk back to his friend's home about four or five miles down the road, the release said.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson declined to comment on what the 17-year-olds were doing near the property so early in the morning.

"We are still investigating this case and are looking for more facts," Carlson said.

Friends and family of Jackson and Kuehu claim the two 17-year-olds were up to no good prior to the alleged crimes.

"What were these two doing out at this property so late at night?" asked one man who asked to remain anonymous.

The man said he is related to Kuehu and has been friends with Jackson for "around 10 years." He believes the two teens intended to steal marijuana from Jackson's garden.

The man said Kuehu was hired by Jackson to keep watch over the marijuana garden and fired a warning shot when the teens entered the property. Kuehu recently moved to Jackson County from Hawaii and has had trouble finding a job as a contractor, the man said.

"I'm not saying they did the right thing after they caught the one person that night," the man said. "They probably should have called the police immediately, but I'm also sure the adrenaline was pumping when they caught some people who intended to steal from them."

Neither of the 17-year-olds has been charged with a crime, according to the sheriff's department.

First-degree kidnapping carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of seven years, six months. Second-degree assault carries a minimum sentence of five years, 10 months, under Measure 11 sentencing guidelines.

Jackson and Kuehu remained in jail late Tuesday on $2 million bail each.

Chris Conrad is a reporter with the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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