Even hardcore fight fans might be hard pressed to remember Gerald Strebendt’s UFC career. It lasted all of two minutes and forty five seconds, officially, when he was knocked out by Josh Thomson way back at UFC 44 in the fall of 2003. Strebendt kicked around Cage Rage and other notable small shows for a bit, losing fights to Sean Sherk and Vitor Ribeiro, before finally retiring back in 2008. Now he’sin the news again, but it’s nothing to do with his MMA career.
Instead, the Register Guard reports that Strebendt is on his way to prison after pleading guilty to negligent homicide. The verdict was reached as part of a plea deal, as Strebendt was facing murder charges, following the fatal shooting of Paul Crofut in Springfield, Oregon in March of 2014. While some of the facts of the case are disputed, it appears that Strebendt witnessed an intoxicated Crofut make an illegal right turn in his vehicle, and used his own truck to cut Crofut off and stop him from driving. Crofut apparently tried to to drive around Strebendt’s vehicle but ended up hitting it instead. At some point during the altercation Strebendt retrieved a firearm. He claims he shot Crofut in self defense and the presence of Crofut’s DNA on Strebendt’s gun suggests that there was probably an altercation involving the weapon.
Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner had this to say about the events:
“While the investigation clearly established the role of Mr. Strebendt’s aggression in causing the initial vehicle collision with Mr. Crofut, it also showed that Mr. Crofut continued to approach Mr. Strebendt even though he knew Mr. Strebendt was agitated and armed with a firearm,” Gardner said. “The victim’s behavior did not justify Mr. Strebendt’s actions but, together with Mr. Strebendt’s mental condition, it contributed to the tragic end result.”
Based on the combined circumstances and evidence, it appears that Strebendt felt he was best served to take the reduced charges of negligent homicide rather than go to a full jury trial. He has been sentenced to 4 years and 10 months in prison, with 15 months off for time served.
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