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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man sentenced to 20 years in beating death at Salmon Creek-area motel

Self-defense claimed in Jan. 27 attack

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 23, 2023, 2:52pm

A Vancouver man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for the January beating death of another man in a Salmon Creek-area motel.

On June 9, after nearly four hours of deliberation, a Clark County Superior Court jury convicted Jonathan D. Smith, 39, of second-degree murder. Smith claimed self-defense at trial.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty asked the judge to sentence Smith to the top of his standard sentencing range of 175 to 275 months. He noted the brutality of the fatal beating that Roger Hudyma, 58, suffered. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled he died from blunt- and sharp-force head injuries. A Clark County sheriff’s deputy testified during trial that Hudyma’s disfigured face was unrecognizable.

The prosecutor also noted Smith’s previous assault convictions.

“He has shown himself, plain and simple, to be a danger to society,” McCarty said.

Defense attorney Phillip Ard asked the judge to give Smith an exceptionally low sentence of 150 months. He said Hudyma instigated the incident and attacked Smith. He also said he thinks some witnesses who did not appear to testify at trial may have helped the defense’s case.

“At the end of the day, we’ll never have, I think, a good explanation as to why Mr. Hudyma ended up in that hotel room, and why he took the actions he did,” Ard said.

Hudyma’s daughter told Judge Robert Lewis about the impact her father’s violent death has had on her. She said she avoids the area near the Sunnyside Motel, where he was killed.

Smith apologized to Hudyma’s family, and he said that as a father himself, he sympathizes with Hudyma’s daughter. He then questioned the quality of his defense attorney’s representation during the trial.

Lewis ordered the high-end sentence based on Smith’s history of violent crimes.

Deputies responded shortly after 9 p.m. Jan. 27 for a report of a disturbance in Room 31 at the motel, 12200 N.E. Highway 99. The 911 caller said he heard his neighbors fighting, and someone was screaming to call the police, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

After deputies knocked, the door opened and Smith, with blood on his face and hands, crawled out. Deputies said Smith looked up at his girlfriend — who was standing with the 911 caller — and said, “He was trying to rape you, he was raping you,” the affidavit states.

Ard said during sentencing that he believes the neighbor who called 911 would’ve testified that Smith told law enforcement Hudyma “was going to rape my girlfriend,” not that “he was raping my girlfriend.” The neighbor did not appear to testify.

Smith’s girlfriend told investigators Hudyma had picked up the couple from a friend’s trailer and brought them to their motel room. Hudyma came inside and got into the shower, she said. She was at the motel office, she said, when she heard screaming and returned to the room, according to the affidavit.

She saw Hudyma lying on the bathroom floor with Smith on top of him. She believed Hudyma was having a seizure and that Smith was helping him. She then saw Hudyma’s swollen eye, she said, and told Smith they needed an ambulance, court records say.