Teachers and coaches at Roseville High School described Beau W. Smith on Thursday as a bright and well-liked student, a star athlete, a young man with a promising future.
But more than 500 miles away, Smith’s future looked bleak. After his arrest Wednesday night in the beating death of a 66-year-old man in downtown Salem, Ore., Smith was arraigned on a murder charge Thursday afternoon. He was denied bail, in accordance with Oregon law, and will likely remain behind bars until his case is resolved.
Marion County District Attorney Doug Hanson said officials were still investigating what transpired between Smith, 22, and Michael Hampshire. Hampshire’s death was caused by blunt-force head injuries, according to Christopher Young of the state medical examiner’s office. He did not address details about use of a weapon, according to the Statesman Journal, based in Salem.
“We don’t have reason to believe that they had known each other prior to this,” said Hanson, who declined to release details of how Hampshire died other than to say his demise was violent.
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Smith’s attorney, Walter Todd, described his client as cooperative with police during the investigation. Todd said he was granted a 30-day continuance to collect character references for Smith, who is to appear in court again Dec. 11.
“I asked to continue the case for 30 days so I could provide more background information and character evidence to the DA’s Office from his high school and childhood,” Todd said.
That information, Hanson said, will likely be used in any plea negotiations.
There was not much information immediately available about Hampshire. Neighbors took to Facebook on Thursday to call him a “mellow guy” and a friend who owned a home in the area. According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, Hampshire had completed probation in 2013 for menacing – intentionally attempting to place someone in fear of physical harm through words or actions.
Smith is a senior chemistry major at Willamette University in Salem and a wide receiver on the Willamette Bearcats football team. He previously played tight end, wide receiver and free safety at Roseville High. He also played baseball at Roseville, where he was an outfielder.
Salem police said a witness reported what appeared to be a body near a downtown intersection at 3:42 a.m. Wednesday. There, officers found Hampshire, who was declared dead at the scene.
Smith was found a short distance away. Detectives interviewed then arrested him.
Former Roseville High Principal Brad Basham said he and others who knew Smith in high school were in shock Thursday as they read news reports of the killing. Smith had excelled in athletics and graduated from Roseville High in the top 5 percent of his class with a 4.0-plus grade-point average, Basham recalled.
“He was never in trouble,” Basham said. “There are many who are shocked and saddened by this news.”
When Smith went on to college, majoring in chemistry and playing football, Basham said, it’s what his mentors and peers expected.
The news that he was arrested in a murder case is “almost unbelievable,” Basham said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved,” Basham said. “Beau and his family as well as the victim and his family.”
Willamette University spokesman Adam Torgerson said the university is cooperating with the investigation. Hampshire’s death occurred off-campus.
“And we’re taking measures to ensure the well-being of the campus community – such as encouraging people to seek counseling and support services as needed.”
In 2010, Smith was named second team All-Metro Football by The Sacramento Bee. In 2011, he was an honorable mention selection to the All-Metro Baseball Team.
Ed Fletcher contributed to this report. Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang, (916) 321-1038.