A Portland man was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for stabbing another man in the heart during a brawl beneath the Burnside Bridge in 2021.
A prosecutor said the victim, Jay Ahn, 40, was experiencing homelessness, estranged from his family and struggling with addiction and mental health issues when he became embroiled in an altercation beneath the bridge just after midnight on March 30, 2021.
Unidentified people pepper-sprayed and struck Ahn in the head, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Lowe said in court.
Ahn was already bleeding when William E. Aho, now 38, got tangled up in the melee and tried to get Ahn out of the area, Lowe said.
But the bleeding man spit in Aho’s face and Aho then stabbed him directly in the heart, according to court records. Aho told detectives that another man at the camp had given him the knife, the records said.
The other people involved in the fight either left or declined to cooperate with officers, Lowe said, but the stabbing was captured on Mercy Corps surveillance cameras and a local security guard was able to identify Aho as the one with the knife.
Aho was also living on the streets and afflicted with mental health issues at the time of the killing, but said in court he is now taking medication.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter after originally being charged with second-degree murder.
Circuit Judge Benjamin Souede sentenced him to 10 years in prison, with credit for time served, plus three years of post-prison supervision.
“I need you to briefly tell me what you did,” Souede said during the hearing.
“I stabbed him,” said Aho, declining to speak further.
Ahn, who was Korean American, was among a disproportionate number of people of color killed last year in Portland’s record year of 92 homicides.