Suspect arraigned for murder of Phillip Johnson

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Phillip Johnson (File photo)

With the ninth anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s murder just around the corner, a suspect has been arraigned in the case.

Victor David Smith, 36, was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court by Judge John B. Wilson on Wednesday.

Smith was arraigned on one count of murder with a firearm for the July 1, 2004 of Keizer’s Johnson. Detectives with the Keizer Police Department found Johnson lying near the parking lot outside his Cascadian Village Apartments residence on Claxter Road around 11 p.m. that night and have been working since then to solve the case. Johnson was pronounced deceased at the scene from the gunshot wounds. Police have not stated how many times he was shot.

Victor David Smith

Victor David Smith

Smith is being held at the Marion County Jail without bail. The case will go before Judge Thomas Hart for a status conference on July 16 at the Marion County Courthouse.

Murder is an unclassified felony in Oregon, carrying a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years.

Johnson, 33, left behind a son – also named Phillip – and a daughter who had not been born yet when he was murdered.

In June 2011, Det. Dmitry White with the KPD told the Keizertimes detectives traveled to Arizona since “significant developments” led them there. White also noted at the time detectives had contacted “at least 100 people” while investigating the case.

Johnson had spent 10 years in prison for armed robbery but was close to completing a parole program and had plans to join his brother in Seattle for a new job when he was killed.

White hinted two years ago Johnson knew his killer.

“It wasn’t random, I can tell you that,” White said.

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