Oregon Man Pleads Guilty in Woman’s Murder at Protest in Portland

A man who fatally shot a woman and injured four others last year at a protest against police killings in Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty on Wednesday to second-degree murder and other charges, the authorities said.

The man, Benjamin Smith, 44, who the authorities said confronted a group protesting at a park near his house, also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder, three counts of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault, according to records from the Multnomah County Courthouse.

Mr. Smith faces a maximum possible penalty of life in prison at his sentencing on April 18.

His roommate, Kristine Christenson, said in an interview in February, 2022, that Mr. Smith had been radicalized in recent years, professing his hatred for Antifa, Black Lives Matter and “those damn commies.”

Katherine Knapp, the wife of the 60-year-old woman who was killed, Brandy Knightly, told KOIN 6, a TV station, on Wednesday: “Today, we can take some small satisfaction in knowing Benjamin Smith finally had to accept the truth and concede the fact that he is guilty as charged.”

Mr. Smith’s lawyer, Jonathan Sarre, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Thursday evening.

The shooting in Portland had rattled the city, which was grappling with a rising number of homicides and shootings, including two other violent episodes that occurred on the same day that Mr. Smith shot the protesters.

On Feb. 19, Mr. Smith, a machinist, told the group of people protesting at Normandale Park to leave, according to court documents. When someone in the group said to Mr. Smith that he should leave and go home, Mr. Smith responded that they should “make” him leave, an arrest affidavit states.

Mr. Smith then aggressively approached someone in the group, who pushed him back, according to the affidavit. He continued to yell at the group before drawing his gun and firing at them, the authorities said.

Ms. Knightly was shot in the head at close range and died on the scene, the authorities said at the time.

One person was struck in the neck and was in critical condition, paralyzed from the neck down, according to the affidavit. Another victim was struck in several places and was also hospitalized. Two other victims were struck, and later released from an area hospital, according to the affidavit.

A person returned fire during the episode, injuring Mr. Smith, who was shot near his hip, the affidavit states.

One person who was shot, Dajah Beck, said in an interview last year that she, Ms. Knightly and two other women were not protesting but were part of a volunteer motorcade that was helping to set up a safety plan and reroute traffic ahead of the marchers.

None of the women were armed, and Ms. Knightly had to ride in a truck because she used a cane, Ms. Beck said at the time.

Judge Christopher Marshall of the Multnomah County Circuit Court said in court on Wednesday that such shootings “shouldn’t be part of the human experience,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Later, he told the courtroom: “I’m sorry you have to hear these things.”

Source: Read Full Article