A man living in a group home for persons with mental illnesses in Portland has been charged with three killings and the wounding of three others in what police believe were all random attacks this year.
A new 11-count indictment charging Joseph Kelly Banks, 49, with the killings of three men in the first three months of this year was returned by a Multnomah County grand jury on Monday. Each of the three murders occurred within the first few days of the month:
— Isaiah Hurst, 39, was discovered dead in the driver’s seat of a tan vehicle that had collided with a telephone pole near the 100 block of North Morgan Street at 9 a.m. on Jan. 2.
— Jeff Ramirez, 35, was in his pickup truck on February 2 when a bullet entered the cab and struck him in the torso. Just before 4 p.m., he perished behind the wheel of his Honda Ridgeline on Southeast Stark Street at 119th Avenue.
— Mark Johnson, 55, whose corpse was discovered on the southern side of Dawson Park on North Stanton Street shortly after noon on March 1 next to his black SUV.
Banks is also charged with two nonfatal shootings in Northeast Portland the day before the fatal shooting in Dawson Park, as well as the wounding of a man discovered about a block distant from the deadly shooting on February 2.
According to police and prosecutors, he is accused of shooting a woman multiple times near North Williams Avenue and Stanton Street shortly after noon on Feb. 28. According to police, a male with gunshot wounds was discovered in the 3700 block of Northeast Garfield Avenue five minutes later.
He’s accused of shooting another guy just before 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 near Southeast Stark Street and 122nd Avenue, roughly a block away from Ramirez’s fatal shooting.
Banks, according to police, did not know any of the suspects. The circumstances surrounding the shootings are unknown according to court records.
According to police, forensic analyses of gunshot shells found from each location and security film obtained from places near the crime scenes assisted detectives in linking Banks to the homicides.
Banks is now charged with three counts of second-degree murder with a firearm in connection with the three killings, according to the new indictment. For each of the persons he’s accused of hurting who lived, Banks is charged with attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, first-degree assault, and second-degree assault.
He is being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland without bail.
Banks had been in federal jail for at least a decade after being declared not guilty by reason of insanity in 2007 for illegally possessing a firearm as a felon, his second conviction for the offence.
Banks had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder, and a forensic mental health evaluation decided in 2007 that his mental illness would make him a danger to others. He should be committed for inpatient treatment, according to the examination.
Noel Grefenson, Banks’ lawyer at the time, claimed that a psychologist appointed by the defence concurred with the assessment, citing Banks’ mental illness, delusions, substance addiction concerns, and lack of understanding of his sickness. Grefenson also suggested that Banks be placed in the community in the Portland region in the future.
According to documents, Banks spent the majority of his time in prison at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.
Banks’ background indicated “how fast he decompensates” with possibly threatening behaviour when he is off his medicine, according to a report written by a former prosecutor eight years ago.
Banks’ restricted release to the Northwest Regional Reentry Center, a federal halfway house, was ordered by U.S. Senior District Judge Anna J. Brown in Portland in February 2021.
According to court papers, Brown’s ruling was based on an annual report from a treatment team that deemed Banks’ mental condition had improved enough for him to be stabilised on a “regimen of psychotropic medication.”
According to the home’s director and court documents, he was last staying at Cameron Care Inc.’s residential group home on the 3600 block of Northeast Garfield Avenue. Cameron Care offers adults with mental illnesses transitional residential care and therapy.
Since his release, he has remained under federal control.
Corey Cameron, the owner and programme director of Cameron Care Inc., said the transitional centre was working with authorities following Banks’ arrest in the homicide near Dawson Park.
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