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John Thiry indicted on felony charge

Homeless man is accused of throwing a traffic pin off overpass and onto I-5
 Posted: 2:00 AM January 26, 2011

The homeless man acquitted in the Oak Knoll fire case was indicted by a Jackson County Grand Jury Tuesday on a felony charge for allegedly throwing a traffic pin off the Ashland Street bridge and onto Interstate 5.

John Thiry, 40, was indicted on one count each of first-degree throwing an object off an overpass, a Class C felony; second-degree disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor; and recklessly endangering another person, a Class A misdemeanor, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Laura Abraham.

"All three are related to his throwing the object off the overpass," she said.

Thiry remained in Jackson County Jail late Tuesday on $10,000 bail.

Ashland police arrested Thiry Saturday afternoon after a driver called 9-1-1 to report witnessing Thiry throw a 3-foot, plastic, orange traffic pin off the bridge and onto the freeway, according to police reports. The traffic delineator didn't hit any cars, said Ashland police Deputy Chief Corey Falls.

Police say Thiry then headed to the nearby Rite Aid parking lot where he began aggressively panhandling and harassing shoppers. He was cited for disorderly conduct in the Rite Aid incident, but that case will be handled separately and will not involve a grand jury indictment because it is a misdemeanor case, Abraham said.

Abraham said she was satisfied with the grand jury's ruling Tuesday.

"I feel they fairly listened and issued what they believe can be proven in trial," she said.

The date of Thiry's pretrial hearing will be set today during an arraignment hearing, Abraham said.

Thiry has not been assigned a defense lawyer yet, and his attorney during his last case, Andy Vandergaw, could not immediately be reached.

The bridge incident occurred not far from where investigators say Thiry ignited a grass fire on Aug. 24 that spread across Interstate 5 and destroyed 11 homes.

In the wake of the fire, Thiry was charged with 10 counts of recklessly endangering another and 14 counts of reckless burning. In December, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia found Thiry not guilty of all charges. Mejia said Thiry likely did start the fire, but prosecutors had not proven Thiry was aware of the risks, a condition necessary for Thiry to be considered guilty of recklessness.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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