Army Ranger Charged With Beating, Killing Security Guard, Says He Blacked Out

A U.S. Army Ranger is being charged with first-degree murder following the death of a 42-year-old woman in Tacoma, Washington. He says he doesn't remember the attack, due to a blackout following a night of drinking.

Patrick Phillip Byrne, who's stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is accused of killing 42-year-old Denise Smith on July 18. He has plead not guilty.

The attack took place at an office building in Downtown Tacoma. Byrne got into an altercation and was punched in the face while at a bar with friends, prosecutors said. He then went to the office building, where he allegedly attacked Smith while she was on duty as a security guard.

Byrne is accused of beating Smith with his fists and a set of keys to the point that she was unrecognizable, according to court documents. He then allegedly choked her, which ultimately led to her death, the documents said.

"It appeared to one detective that he was trying to stab or gouge her eyes out," according to court documents.

"During the defendant's lengthy attack on the victim, she repeatedly tried to fight back, and she tried to get away, but the defendant grabbed her each time and prevented her from fleeing," the documents continued. "He repeatedly overpowered her, assaulted her, and threw her around by her hair braid."

handcuffs stock image joint base lewis-mcchord army
A U.S. Army Ranger is accused of beating and choking a Tacoma, Washington security guard to death. Sergey Chayko/Getty

Prosecutors say once Byrne killed Smith, he then threw himself out of a window, tore up furniture and jumped 14 feet onto the concrete. Once he recovered from passing out, he then allegedly started screaming for help and claimed that he was stabbed and sexually assaulted. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors discovered that he wasn't stabbed, and he didn't allow them to examine him for sexual assault injuries.

Byrne told police he does not remember the attack. He said he only remembers going to a bar, drinking, and blacking out. Byrne says when he came to, he was in the hospital.

Smith's body was found a few hours later by a fellow co-worker. Byrne was arrested after security camera footage appeared to show him attacking and killing Smith. Byrne is also being charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, and one count of first-degree burglary.

The United States Army Special Operations Command issued a statement regarding Byrne. The office is cooperating with police during the duration of the investigation.

Smith's sister spoke to KOMO-TV about how her sister was a "nice, gentle, and sweet" person.

"She was just loving, just caring, kept to herself, mind her own business," Mack said, who was parked outside the office tower where her sister died. "I just came here to see the building because I wanted to see for myself."

She also stated that the arrest of Byrne doesn't soothe the pain of her and her family losing Smith.

"That doesn't bring me no sense of peace, no," Mack said. "That arrest isn't bringing her back."