From Mike Arnold, criminal defense attorney/author: More often than not, a defense attorney's clients are guilty. Gerald Strebendt certainly looked guilty of the January 2014 road-rage murder. Marine sniper. Blackwater operative. MMA fighter with a 9-7 win-loss record, including an appearance in UFC 44. Strebendt was a trained killer, in other words, & one who just happened to be known for his hothead tendencies. It didn't help that his truck was a rolling armory that dark night on a rural road in Springfield, Ore., or that the weapon he used to shoot the other unarmed driver wasn't anybody's idea of "the right gun" to be carrying around town. It was an AR-15-type rifle, a long, black semiautomatic that the world loves to label a "military assault rifle."
Yes, he sure looked guilty to many. But he told me he was innocent. He told mean unbelievable story about what happened.And I believed him. In the end, a single shot rang out & only Strebendt was left standing. So, was it road rage? Self-defense? Or, some combination of the two?
I'm Mike Arnold, attorney for the defense, & this book isn't just the story of this shooting, or of Gerald Strebendt's guilt or innocence. It's also my story. Because,for the first time, I saw myself in one of my clients. And I realized that, in this case, neither one of us was likely to get a fair shake from the judicial system.
FROM THE PUBLISHER: (WARNING:Contains Crime Scene Photos)
The true crime thriller of UFC fighter veteran Gerald "The Finishing Machine" Strebendt, who in 2014 shot & killed an unarmed man after a minor traffic accident. Police detectives called it road rage. Gerald's attorneys called a press-conference, taking a unique step in a high-profile case in changing the narrative. Within days, self-defense became the key media issue & Gerald awaited a charging decision by the Oregon prosecutor.
Charge: Murder with a Firearm, & thus began the next stage of Gerald's life. He had served the Marine Corps proudly as a Marine sniper. He had done two tours of duty in Afghanistan as a Blackwater (Academi) mercenary. He had fought mixed martial arts professionally & had a successful MMA-training gym. However, the next stage of his life was a fight for justice & a fight for his life. Was it going to be a murder conviction & a life in prison? Many in the community wanted that, claiming that a trained killer like Gerald couldn't possibly need to shoot an unarmed 55-year-old man with an AR-15 military-style assault rifle.But the truth was much more nuanced.
Finishing Machine is a book about choices. Gerald made choices in his life to fight & compete. Some of these instincts carried on in his post-military life when he was accused of years of prior road-rage incidents that the Oregon prosecutor wanted to introduce as evidence at his trial. His attorneys, Mike Arnold & Emilia Gardner, set out to disprove these allegations & get to the truth with science & hard work. Gerald also made a choice that night to use his firearm rather than to run or fight.
Written from the perspective of Gerald's lead counsel Mike Arnold, the authors' book takes the reader on a journey of the goings-on in a defense attorney's mind. Does he doubt his client's story? How does he deal with surprising evidence? Can he stay the impartial advocate? Does the judge's gag order turn the case into a secret criminal tribunal at this former UFC fighter's detriment or does it allow him access to the justice the law requires?
Does science say it was a minor traffic accident or a dramatic crash caused by a crazy man? And if so, who was the crazy man, Gerald or his victim?
Live the tension of the lawyers & the accused yourself by stepping into the mind of a criminal defense attorney & into the mind of "The Finishing Machine."