A Salem police car. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
A Marion County grand jury on Thursday indicted Manuel Elisha North, 46, on murder and bias crime charges for the death of Herman Graham III, but Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson is withholding information on the circumstances of the death.
Police arrested North on Oct. 26 in connection with the shooting death of 48-year-old Graham, a Black man, in east Salem near Interstate 5. North was indicted for second-degree murder, first-degree bias crime and unlawful use of a weapon. He is being held at the Marion County Jail.
North is the owner of a west Salem business called Northstar Martial Arts, according to business filings with the Secretary of State. Court records from a July arrest in Polk County for forgery and methamphetamine possession show Graham was experiencing homelessness.
The death has spurred concern in some of the community because of social media accounts that the attack was racially motivated. The murder also was a topic at a recent meeting of the Salem-Keizer NAACP.
The Salem Police Department, which investigated the death, and district attorney have released little information on what led to the shooting or the bias charge.
The day of the shooting police sent out a release that said: “Arriving officers confirmed that one person had been shot and is deceased. At least one person was detained at the scene.”
The following day Salem police released Graham and North’s names and said the state medical examiner “determined the cause of death is gunshot wounds, and the manner of death is homicide.” No other details were made available.
Under Oregon law, a bias crime involves causing physical injury to someone because of the perception of their race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
North was arrested on the basis of a sworn statement made in an affidavit by police officers that outlined the probable cause to believe he committed the crimes. Law enforcement officials usually publicly release such documents.
Amy Queen, a Marion County deputy district attorney, said that in the North case, the affidavit didn’t directly describe the details of the shooting and instead referenced a separate affidavit signed by a judge to approve a search warrant in the case.
Queen said the details of that affidavit won’t be disclosed because they’re related to an ongoing criminal investigation.
"At this time, it is about protecting the integrity of the open criminal prosecution. The details of this case will be presented in open court, where all of the necessary safe guards are in place to ensure a fair trial.” Queen said in an email.
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Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.