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Roseville Football Star gets Six Years Behind Bars — Smith sentenced after killing

Beau Smith pled guilty to manslaughter in Salem, Oregon last Monday
By: Steven Wilson,
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Far removed from his glory days on the gridiron at Roseville High School, Beau Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second degree and possession of a controlled substance Monday afternoon in a Marion County courtroom in Salem, Oregon. He will spend the next six years behind bars.

The 2011 Tigers alum admitted to taking psilocybin mushrooms on Nov. 12, 2014, just before a fight left 66-year-old Michael Hampshire dead on the streets of Salem.

According to an online media release from the Salem Police Department, residents found Hampshire at 3:42 a.m. lying near an intersection roughly a mile north of Willamette University, where Smith attended college and played football.

“Beau Smith has never been arrested before, has never been in a fight before,” defense attorney Walter Todd told the press. “He’s just a very peaceful person. This event, when all of the facts unfold, is truly an aberration.”

“He experimented with mushrooms as some college students do. He had a very bad reaction,” Todd added in a statement published by the press.

Smith was originally charged with murder, but a grand jury lowered that charge to manslaughter in February. Smith pleaded not guilty.

This week, Roseville High's head football coach Larry Cunha heard of the sentencing and seemed visibly shook up. 

“He was a good citizen,” said Cunha, who coached Smith back in 2010 and 2011. “He was probably a straight-A student or very close to it. So it’s an unfortunate situation for all involved. I feel bad for all the families.”

Coming from a coach who knows how to develop young men into leaders, Cunha added that he hopes Smith turns his life around.

“Hopefully he’s got a support mechanism in there with his family and I hope the best for him and his family down the road,” Cunha said. 

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom at the time of Smith's February hearing, Deputy District Attorney Doug Hanson emphasized the legal definition of first-degree manslaughter: an act “committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

“A majority of manslaughter cases, they involve intoxicants, driving under the influence,” Hanson told reporters. “This is very different, in that it was an up-close-and-personal situation that occurred.” 

Police arrested the senior chemistry major shortly after the altercation, and court documents revealed that Smith said during his initial interview that he had trouble remembering the specifics of his interaction with Hampshire. However, he told detectives he consumed the mushrooms and admitted that he got into a fight with the victim.

Prior to his arraignment, Todd argued his client was acting in self defense when he struck Hampshire repeatedly in the face. A state medical examiner determined in December 2014 that the victim died of homicidal violence as a result of that fight.

Todd told the Associated Press his team was working hard to convince the state (of Oregon) this was not a murder case.

"There are other possibilities — criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter in the second degree ... there are many other options,” he stated.

Todd also told the press, Smith has “had true remorse from the very beginning.” He also reached out and expressed his sorrow to Hampshire’s surviving family, Todd added.

During a preliminary hearing in the case, Hanson read a letter written by Hampshire’s widow.

“The results of my husband’s passing have made a huge long-lasting impact, not only on me, but also on friends, and the community at large,” Hanson read from the letter, as reported by the press. “The ripple effect of this tragic death has neighbors concerned in their own neighborhood.”

Smith was a 4.0 student at Roseville and a star receiver for the Tigers football program in 2010. In the spring of his senior year, he led the Roseville baseball team to its first section title since 1984.

“He was a great kid,” Smith’s high school baseball coach Hank DeMello told the Press Tribune at the time of his arrest. “He always had a smile on his face and he loved being around the team.”

 

Photo courtesy of Ashley Smith of statesmanjournal.com.  

Email the Sports Editor, Steven Wilson, at stevenw@goldcountrymedia.com or follow him on Twitter: @stevenjwilson11