Man who killed intruder who fell asleep on couch gets 19 months

Man who killed intruder who fell asleep on couch gets 19 months »Play Video

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- A Sutherlin man who shot and killed a man his wife found asleep on their couch last year will serve 19 months in prison as part of a plea deal.

Keith Cramer, 35, pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide with a firearm. In exchange, the district attorney dropped a charge of second degree manslaughter.

The charges stem from a shooting inside Cramer's home in Sutherlin, where Cramer's wife discovered a man sleeping on their couch last June.

She told police she went to a local tavern to get her husband, and the intruder, Michael Shane Smith, 35, of Alaska, was shot in the chest.

Cramer will be sentenced by Judge Ronald Poole in August. The two sides have agreed on a sentence of 19 months in exchange for the plea.

"He has tremendous sorrow for the death of Mr. Smith, and for his wife and family," defense attorney Jim Arneson said of Cramer,  "and wishes to the bottom of his soul this had never happened."

Sentencing is set for Aug. 7 at 8:30 a.m.

'He beat me up, so I shot him. This is my house. He's an intruder'

According to police accounts, Cramer's wife found the stranger passed out on the family's couch and summoned her husband from a bar.

Cramer said that what happened next was self-defense. According to a search warrant affidavit, he told officers: "He beat me up, so I shot him. This is my house. He's an intruder."

Two Sutherlin police officers entered the home after the June 19 shooting and found the 35-year-old Smith. He was "lying on his side with his feet propped up on the couch, facing the center of the living room," the affidavit states.

Investigators said Smith appeared to have been shot in the chest with a high-powered hunting rifle.

Smith lived in Alaska, but had been in Sutherlin for several weeks mourning the May 29 death of his mother. A friend said Smith had been drinking heavily on the night of the shooting and might have become disoriented while walking back to his stepfather's house.

Smith had been at the same bar as Cramer, but it does not appear the men knew each other.