Patrick Byrne: Army ranger sentenced to 20 years for beating and dragging security guard Denise Smith 'like a rag doll'

Patrick Byrne: Army ranger sentenced to 20 years for beating and dragging security guard Denise Smith 'like a rag doll'
Patrick Byrne pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for beating Denise Smith to death (Smith: Obituary; KING/YouTube)

Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers’ discretion advised.

TACOMA, WASHINGTON: A US Army Ranger beat a security guard to death who tried to stop him from entering a building in Tacoma, Washington. The Ranger will spend the next 20 years behind bars.

The victim made several attempts to get away, but the prosecutors said the severe beating proceeded for ten minutes. 

The 29-year-old Spc Patrick Philip Byrne entered a guilty plea in March to first-degree murder in connection with the July 18, 2021, death of Denise Smith, 41.

Spc Patric Byrne 'dragged' Denise Smith 'around like a rag doll'

At the time, Smith had just started working as a security guard at an office building in downtown Tacoma, and Byrne was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is close to Tacoma.

The Division II Court of Appeals and other businesses currently occupy the building that once housed Russell Investments.

A probable cause arrest affidavit states that Byrne was punched in the face during an altercation between his friends and another group while he was out drinking at a bar, as reported by Law&Crime.

Byrne believed that one of the fighters had broken into Smith's workplace and attempted to enter. Smith opened the door, apparently to tell Byrne that the building was closed but he forced his way inside.

According to the affidavit, Smith grabbed Byrne by the shirt to stop him in surveillance footage, but the Army Ranger slammed the security guard to the ground. Authorities claimed that he "dragged her around like a rag doll" and repeatedly struck her in the face.

He also grabbed a set of keys and started stabbing her, like he was trying to rip out her eyes.

After that, Byrne punched her while holding the keys between his fingers. Smith attempted to flee, but Byrne dragged her back to carry on the attack, according to the police. After eight minutes of beatings, he choked her for the next two minutes.

Patric Byrne tried escaping the crime scene

As per the affidavit, Byrne got up and ran toward a conference room where he used a chair to smash a window. After that, he reportedly leaped from a landing down approximately 14 feet to the ground, leaving him with a brain injury.

At around 2:00 a.m., he started screaming for help, and someone called 911. When paramedics arrived and brought him to the hospital, he told the nurses that he had been assaulted and stabbed, but the affidavit said there was no proof of either incident. 

Byrne apologized to Smith's family during his sentencing. “I wish I had never gone to that bar, that I had never gone out at all that night,” Byrne said, according to The News Tribune.

He went on to say, “I wish I had never ever even been out here, then none of this would have happened. And Denise Smith, a great and wonderful woman, to be sure, she would still be alive and part of the world for much, much longer.”

What does Patric Byrne's lawyer have to say?

According to Byrne's attorney, his client had a history of head injuries, including a "blast concussion" and a hard fall after his parachute failed to open during a plane jump, which motivated him to enlist in the Army, as reported by the News Tribune.

According to his lawyer, the head injuries might have contributed to his lack of judgment. Smith's father, who claimed to be a veteran, told the judge in a letter that his daughter was just going about her business and wasn't bothering anyone.

“I, myself a US Veteran, recognize that Patrick Philip Byrne is one of the Army’s highest trained killers: An ‘Army Ranger,'” Charles E Reagins wrote. “The actions of Byrne toward my daughter were brutal, savage, harsh, cruel, unnecessary and worthless! It was downright cold-blooded murder.”

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