D.A.; hit and run driver in 2013 cold case not facing charges

GRANTS PASS, Ore. –“Knowing that he was going to keep this from my family and that he’s still not going to have any kind of punishment, that’s what hurts the most,” said Sarah Houston, Jarred Houston’s sister.

Many in the community of Cave Junction and beyond remember a deadly hit and run nearly six years ago.

Back in October of 2013, 41-year-old Robert Calvin and his girlfriend were walking along the highway when 21-year-old Jarred Houston drove toward them.

Investigators say Calvin swung a grocery bag in the direction of the car and Houston turned his car around and came back. That’s when things got physical.

“If Jarred Houston had not been on top of Robert Calvin in the southbound lane of travel on highway 199 in the middle of the night in October, neither Jarred Houston nor Robert Calvin would be dead,” said Ryan Mulkins, Josephine County District Attorney.

But the case ran cold until last December when a woman came forward saying she was a passenger in the truck that hit the men. The D.A.’s office says a month later the alleged driver, 43-year old Jesse Coley, confessed to the crime after first lying to investigators.

“If he had stayed and done the things that he needed to do under Oregon law, stayed there, told law enforcement what happened, it’s very unlikely he would have been subject to any criminal charges,” said Mulkins.

Mulkins says once Coley didn’t report his involvement, he would likely have faced charges if he’d come forward. But now, the statute of limitations on the crimes, ‘failure to perform the duties of a driver’ and ‘criminally negligent homicide’, has expired.

Since it’s been more than 3 years since the crimes, neither Coley nor anyone else will be charged with the crimes in the case.

“Law enforcement is reliant on citizens to come forward with accurate information regarding crimes that occur in a timely fashion,” said Mulkins.

The news, not easy to take for the people who loved Jarred Houston and Robert Calvin.

“It’s forgivable to have done the act because accidents happen and, in my heart, the whole time I planned to forgive him,” said Sarah Houston, Jarred Houston’s sister.

For Sarah and her family who were holding out hope for years, it doesn’t feel like closure.

“The keeping quiet part is the unforgivable part,” said Sarah Houston. “Especially knowing that he was going to keep quiet had the woman never come forward.”

The D.A. says Coley told investigators last month that he returned to the scene of the accident that night. He told them he told a firefighter that he thought he had hit a deer.

The firefighter told him two people had been killed.

When the firefighter didn’t understand what he meant, Coley said he left the scene.

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