A grand jury chose not to charge Thomas Joseph Elliott with murder.
An Aug. 29 indictment in Grant County Circuit Court accuses Elliott of first-degree manslaughter and unlawful use of a weapon for the death of Todd Alan Berry Aug. 24 in the Dog Creek area east of John Day.
A court document signed by Grant County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mara Houck Aug. 25 originally accused Elliott of murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon. First-degree manslaughter is a Class A felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. A murder charge carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years.
Elliott appeared in court for an arraignment hearing on Friday, Sept. 1, where Judge William D. Cramer Jr. set his bail at $750,000. If he posts bail, he was ordered not to possess firearms or weapons, not possess or consume intoxicants, not to have contact with immediate members of the victim’s family and not to have contact with his wife.
He waived his right to a trial within 60 days, and his plea hearing is set for Dec. 1.
Houck said she believed Elliott and Berry were related through a family member’s marriage. She declined to discuss the details of the case.
Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter said he assigned the case to Colin Benson from the Oregon Department of Justice, who will prosecute the case.
Benson has not returned a call from the Eagle.