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Suspect pleads not guilty to murdering motel manager

Medford crime2.jpg

Central Point resident Brian Matthew Smith, 28, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the murder of a Medford motel manager on New Year’s Eve.

Smith, 28, of the 5900 block of Upton Road, was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on two counts of second-degree murder and one count each of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges in Jackson County Circuit Court via video Wednesday afternoon in the murder Dec. 31, of Bansi Lal Sahu, 60, who managed the Sis-Q Motel, at 722 S. Riverside Ave.

One of the second-degree murder counts is based on murder during the commission of a robbery, while the other second-degree murder count stems from burglary of the Sis-Q, according to the indictment.

The misdemeanor is for the assault of Kanchan Sahu, Bansi Lal Sahu’s wife, who was treated for non-life threatening injuries at the scene.

After a report that Smith had entered the motel, Medford police said the first officer to arrive had intended to speak with the motel manager but saw the suspect fleeing and “covered in blood.” The officer immediately began pursuing him on foot.

“The officer caught the suspect after a foot chase, and utilized a Taser to take him into custody,” according to police. “When officers went back to the manager's office, they found the manager deceased.”

Police said Smith had been brought to the attention of police earlier in the day, allegedly for disorderly behavior at a gas station in the 2200 block of Biddle Road. The car Smith was thought to have been driving at the Biddle Road business was reported later as being driven recklessly on 10th Street before being left disabled on Earhart Street, near Riverside Avenue and the Sis-Q Motel.

Smith is being held in the Jackson County Jail without bail. A pre-trial conference in the case was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 18.