Normandale Park Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison

Benjamin Smith had pleaded guilty to murdering one woman and shooting four others in 2022.

Benjamin Smith sits with his attorney, Jonathan Sarre. Smith, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder, and eight other counts of first and second degree attempted murder and assault on March 8, 2023. (John Rudoff/Photo Credit: ©John Rudoff 2023)

Benjamin Smith, the 44-year-old man who murdered a woman and shot four others near Normandale Park in Northeast Portland last year, has been sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 55 years.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Christopher Marshall announced the decision this afternoon, following Smith’s guilty plea last month.

Several of Smith’s victims made statements at the sentencing, and one, Dajah Beck, played recorded footage of the attack to the court. “Every victim here today is someone who would run towards the sound of gunfire to help someone—but that night, at that intersection, the gunfire came to us,” she said.

On Feb. 19, 2022, Smith shot longtime activist June Knightly, 60, in the head, killing her as she was helping to direct traffic during a racial justice march. Smith shot four other people before being shot himself by a bystander. One of his victims was paralyzed from the neck down.

Smith lived near the park and had been previously reported to local and federal law enforcement for his threatening behavior prior to the shootings.

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