Former Marine sniper, retired professional fighter, and long-time UGer Gerald Strebendt faces a murder charge in connection with a fatal shooting on January 29, 2014 in Springfield, Oregon. Strebendt claims that he acted in self-defense when he fired on David Crofut, 53, after a roadside confrontation. Crofut was unarmed at the time.
Strebendt called 911 following the collision but before shooting Crofut, and was still connected with the 911 call when the shot was fired. Strebendt’s attorney, Mike Arnold states that Strebendt reached into his vehicle and retrieved his weapon, a loaded .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, because Crofut verbally threatened his life. Carrying a loaded rifle in a vehicle is legal in Oregon.
Police report that Crofut and his wife had been at a local tavern prior to crossing paths with Strebendt. Arnold alleges that Crofut drank approximately six beers on the night of the shooting.
Arnold has launched a website, www.geraldstrebendt.com, to seek information from any potential witnesses to the incident.
“Since Day 1, my client has been requesting that we go public and turn over every stone and get as much information as possible,” said Arnold. “He’s of the firm opinion that the truth will set him free.”
"Did you drive by the aftermath of the car crash on Bob Straub Parkway on January 29, 2014? Has someone told you that they witnessed something or have information? Please let us know what you saw or heard. You can call Arnold Law at 541.338.9111 and ask to speak to our investigator or you can submit information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Arnold said that any potential witnesses who have not yet come forward with information may include “an unidentified driver who was going northbound after the ramming of Mr. Strebendt’s vehicle, prior to him being forced to fire his rifle. That person may not think they have anything important to add, but every observation is important in a case like this.”
Strebendt, 35, has been held in the Lane County Jail without bail since his arrest in early March. His trial is scheduled for March 2015.
According to Wikipedia, Strebendt was a key witness in the 2005 murder trial of Rafiel Torre. Torre initially offered Strebendt $10,000 to kill the victim, 32-year-old Bryan Richards. Richards had a sizable life insurance policy, and Torre was having an affair with Richards' wife. After Strebendt refused, Torre committed the murder himself on Dec. 21, 2001, leaving the body in the bed of a pickup truck in a supermarket parking lot in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
Torre told Strebendt a few days later that he had killed Richards in self-defense with a rear naked choke. Torre asked Strebendt to provide him with an alibi; Strebendt refused. More than a year after the killing, Strebendt voluntarily came forward and provided his story to detectives, out of concern that Torre would escape punishment for the murder. Torre was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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