By News-Register staff • 

Two Yamhill County Jail inmates charged in inmate's death

Zachary Chronister
Zachary Chronister
Joshua Mulbreght
Joshua Mulbreght

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 2

Two Yamhill County Jail inmates have been charged in connection with the death of fellow inmate Jed Myers, a 34-year-old McMinnville resident.

Corrections deputies discovered Myers in distress early Thursday morning. They requested McMinnville Fire Department medical personnel, but he could not be revived.

Charged in connection with the death were Zachary Michael Chronister, 20, of Sheridan, and Joshua Ian Mulbreght, 25, of Newberg. They are each facing one count of second-degree manslaughter, a Class B felony carrying the potential for a lengthy mandatory minimum prison term under Measure 11.

A grand jury will hear the case, and may consider additional charges, according to District Attorney Brad Berry. In the meantime, Chronister and Mulbreght have been relocated to other jails.

An autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, determined Myers died of extensive internal bleeding from multiple blows to the body, Berry said. He said the manner of death was judged to be homicidal.

Myers had been taken into custody four days earlier on warrants alleging violation of terms of his probation and post-prison supervision on earlier convictions, according to Sgt. Chris Ray. Ray said he was sharing living quarters with Chronister and Mulbreght at the time.

Chronister was serving a term for violating his probation on felony convictions of failure to appear and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Mulbreght was awaiting transfer to a facility in the state Department of Corrections, after being sentenced to 14 months for violating his probation on a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance/heroin, a Class A felony.

Mulbreght is also awaiting adjudication on two counts of second-degree escape, a Class C felony, and one count each of fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest, both Class A misdemeanors. The charges stem from an incident that erupted in the courtroom during circuit court proceedings.

Sheriff Tim Svenson assigned investigation of the jail death to the county’s Major Crime Response Team, which reports to Berry.

“The MCRT is used to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Ray said. “This happened in our facility, so it’s good to have another set of eyes.”

The chain of events began Wednesday night, when Myers informed the staff he was experiencing an unknown medical problem. The staff responded by removing him from the general population and transferring him to a medical observation cell.

About 1 a.m. Thursday, the deputy manning the control room noticed Myers appeared to be in distress. Deputies went to check, found him unresponsive and began administering CPR.

Responding to a 911 call, fire department medics took over, but could not revive Myers. He was pronounced dead at the jail.

The other set of charges pending against Mulbreght stem from a March 30 outburst in the courtroom of Presiding Circuit Judge John Collins.

When Mulbreght was ordered into custody at the conclusion of a Drug Court hearing, he bolted. He ran over probation officer Lisa Settell, who suffered injuries to her jaw, knee and neck, and attempted to run overJohn Fant, who works in the county’s chemical dependency program. Fant also sustained minor injuries.

Fant said Mulbreght, bound for a door he was standing at, charged straight at him, attempting to “bowl me over.” However, Fant succeeded in forcing him to the floor and gaining the upper hand in the ensuing struggle.

The events leading up to the pair’s incarceration were described this way:

Chronister pleaded guilty in January to one count each of first-degree failure to appear and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, in separate cases. After completing his jail time, he committed probation violations that netted him another 90 days.

After pleading guilty to a heroin dealing charge in March 2014, Mulbreght was sentenced to 30 days in jail followed by 36 months on probation. A series of post-release probation violations eventually became a 14-month prison term, which he has yet to begin serving.

Myer’s beating death was the first recorded at the Yamhill County Jail since June 2008, when Manuel Magana fatally beat Casey Healey.

Magana pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter in November 2008. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison fol lowed by 36 months under post-prison supervision.

Healey, 52, died at the Willamette Valley Medical Center of blunt force trauma to the head, suffered when a blow knocked him to the floor.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

Comments

Bufordthe1st

So they basically beat him to death? Only Manslaughter? There must be more to this story than what we are reading here. Why would two individuals with pretty minor charges against them "murder" someone else when they know they won't get away with it. Also, how can an inmate be beaten to death without someone of authority seeing it happen? The man died a horrible and painful death. He was in jail, I understand, but to be beaten and then suffer a slow excruciating death is not right. I will be interested to see how this all plays out. In the meantime, a family has lost a loved one so keep your comments toned down please for their sake?

Bufordthe1st

So they basically beat him to death? Only Manslaughter? There must be more to this story than what we are reading here. Why would two individuals with pretty minor charges against them "murder" someone else when they know they won't get away with it. Also, how can an inmate be beaten to death without someone of authority seeing it happen? The man died a horrible and painful death. He was in jail, I understand, but to be beaten and then suffer a slow excruciating death is not right. I will be interested to see how this all plays out. In the meantime, a family has lost a loved one so keep your comments toned down please for their sake?

JcK

Buford there is more to the story. Joshua Mulbreght was revoked out of Drug Court because his mental health had become unstable. Unlike most folks with mental illness Joshua had a history of becoming violent during periods of instability. John Fant testified under oath that he felt Joshua had become a threat to the group's safety. They had multiple other warnings that Josh was not thinking rationally, was highly reactive, and might be dangerous. This is likely why they charged him with Manslaughter instead of Murder. Mental status can be a defense in a murder trial but it makes no difference in a manslaughter trial.
The other factor may be the delay in getting proper medical treatment. That's not relevant in a manslaughter trial.
Jed reported an "unknown medical condition" which should have been a clue that an assault may have occurred while he was locked in with an inmate who was mentally unstable and had a history of assaults (two of which occurred in the weeks prior to housing him with Jed.) Jed was moved to the medical cell before 7:30 pm on Wednesday and died of internal bleeding about 1:00 am. Did anybody check his blood pressure or pulse in all that time? A reasonable person might assume that Jed would not have died if he had been taken to the hospital promptly.
The jail may bear some responsibility for Jed's death in how they handled things both before and after the assault. The investigation would have more credibility if an agency from outside Yamhill County had conducted it.

Bufordthe1st

JcK,
Thank you for the additional information and you are right...this investigation should be handled by an outside investigative team. It is too easy to think that "things" could be "swept under the rug" and that won't help anyone. Our County Jail should have full transparency so that measures can take place to prevent this from happening in the future. Do you know what Chronister had to do with any of this? He seems like he would have the most to lose in this (with the exception of Mr Myers who died and paid the ultimate price). It just makes me sad. I see the news and always think I am glad I don't live there or there or there and now something like this happens in our "HOME TOWN"!!

Lulu

Good luck on the transparency issue.
How ironic that Myers died in the place he inhabited with some frequency. However, no one should be murdered in jail. Where is the surveillance?
I don't understand the manslaughter charge either. Notice how both assailants had violated their probation. Probation doesn't seem to work very well in Yamhill County.

Spongebob

Lulu, your assertion that, "Probation doesn't seem to work very well in Yamhill County." cannot be drawn from the facts (as we know them) of this case. In fact, I would argue just the opposite; it is working quite well. Probation is granted according to certain guidelines, but doesn't guarantee future behavior. The fact that these two are incarcerated for violating their probation tells me that the probation system is working as it should. What happened to Mr. Myers cannot be attributed to a failure of the County's probation program. That makes no sense.

Lulu

You're killing me, Sponge. These people are involved in a revolving door justice system.
After countless years witnessing the winners of the National Spelling Bee, do you notice some commonality regarding the majority of the surnames? Life is extrapolation.

Spongebob

Lulu, whatever your take on the National Spelling Bee may be (ha!), this case still does not necessarily reflect poorly on the county's probation program - even if it is part of "a revolving door justice system."

I found extrapolation very useful in my high school geometry class, but not so much on this issue. Just the facts, ma'am.

Lulu

Your world may be thorough but it's boring.

Spongebob

Don't be so judgemental; you don't know me well enough.

Lulu

Name three of your favorite books--and "Robert's Rules of Order" should not be among them.

Spongebob

"Les Miserables", "Notre Dame de Paris" (known to the western world as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"), and "The Grapes of Wrath". All of them deal with social injustice, legalism, and redemption.

Trafik

You two should do a comedy routine. "The Sponge and Lulu Show."

Spongebob

Lulu would would outshine me; she went to Clown College.

Lulu

I attended, and graduated suma clown laude, from "Pennywise the Clown College." Be very afraid.

Spongebob

I am. I have always been afraid of clowns. I think there's an actual clinical name for that, but I just call it 'the Lulu syndrome.'

Lulu

aka--Coulrophobia. I believe there is a vaccine, however. Very expensive; too early to go generic.

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