- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - A grand jury has indicted a 35-year-old former professional mixed martial arts fighter on a murder count in the fatal January shooting of an unarmed man after a Springfield, Ore., traffic crash.

Gerald Strebendt of Springfield was arrested Thursday evening in the Jan. 29 death of 53-year-old David Paul Crofut, also of Springfield, the Register-Guard reported (http://is.gd/YlD4oc).

Strebendt was expected to be arraigned Friday in Lane County Circuit Court.

Vehicles driven by the two men collided on Bob Straub Parkway shortly before they met in a face-to-face confrontation. Police have not said what factors contributed to the crash.

Strebendt’s lawyer Mike Arnold told the newspaper that Crofut said he had a weapon and threatened to kill Strebendt and that his client acted in self defense.

“It remains our position that when an angry and hostile stranger acting aggressively to you tells you he has a weapon and threatens to kill you, you are entitled to take him at his word. No armchair quarterbacking by the government changes that fact,” Arnold said Thursday night.

Police have said Crofut recently moved to Oregon from the Tacoma, Wash., area.

Strebendt called 911 prior to the shooting, and an emergency dispatcher was still on the line when Strebendt pulled a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle from his pickup and shot Crofut. Police have said Crofut was unarmed.

The semi-automatic rifle used by Strebendt is a legal weapon, the newspaper said.

Arnold said his client was running errands when the collision occurred. Police said Crofut had been at a Springfield tavern that night, but it’s unclear whether he was intoxicated. Strebendt is not suspected of having used drugs or alcohol before the encounter.

The newspaper describes Strebendt as a former Marine Corps sniper who competed between 2001 and 2008 in Ultimate Fighting Championship and other professional events as a mixed-martial arts fighter.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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