News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Harris claims self-defense in Mill City shooting

A Mill City man arrested in March for allegedly killing his roommate is claiming self-defense and has asked the court to release him from jail pending the outcome of the case.

On May 1 attorney Bryan Orrio submitted a motion for the release of defendant Benjamin Lyle Harris, 50, who has been charged with second-degree murder in Linn County Circuit Court.

Harris was arrested March 21 for allegedly killing Brian Daniel Rendon, 52, of Mill City, the night before at a home owned by Harris where the two men resided on the 300 block of NW Alder Street.

Orrio’s motion said there was a “reasonable basis for self defense” and that the evidence against his client does not overwhelmingly support allegations of murder.

A hearing to argue the matter has been set for May 9 before Judge Rachel Kittson-MaQatish, during which Harris will also be arraigned on an updated indictment filed April 2.

According to a news release from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received reports around 11 p.m. March 20 of a shooting at the residence in question. They found Reardon deceased and, following an investigation, arrested Harris for the shooting.

Harris has since remained in the Linn County Jail without bail.

Under Oregon law, murder suspects must be held without bail unless the evidence does not clearly support guilt or a strong presumption of guilt. Defendants may request a release hearing to challenge the strength of the evidence, and if the burden of clear or strongly-presumed guilt is not met the court may grant the release of the defendant.

In the May 1 motion, Orrio said his client should be released not only for lack of evidence of a crime but also because Harris is wheelchair-bound and dependent on disability services from the Veterans Administration. He said, if Harris remains in jail longer than 60 days, he could lose access to these benefits, and may also lose his home and personal property.

Orrio said Harris is not a flight risk and does not pose a danger to the public, and urged the court to grant his release.

A funeral for Rendon was held April 13 in Stayton. Loved ones remembered him as a lover of art and nature who enjoyed fishing and exploring the outdoors with his dogs.

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