Jail overcrowding blamed for release of man now accused of murder

Jail overcrowding blamed for release of man now accused of murder »Play Video
Mark Brown appears in court Wednesday via video accused of shooting and killing Bryan John Lee Knorr.

SALEM, Ore. – The man accused of shooting and killing another man outside a Walmart Monday morning was released from jail three weeks ago because of overcrowding.

The jail commander, Sheila Lorance, with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said she had no choice but to release 41-year-old Mark Brown last month. He was released even though he'd been arrested many times.

Brown was arrested in Tigard Tuesday morning after police said he shot and killed 28-year-old Bryan John Lee Knorr in Walmart's parking lot the morning before.

Brown appeared in court Wednesday via video and said hardly anything to the charge of murder. Police said he drove into the store’s parking lot and up to Knorr and shot him dead through the open passenger-side window.

Knorr's family was in court and his mother often sobbed.

According to court records, Brown admitted he was at the Walmart and threatened Knorr that day as well as in the past but told police he didn't pull the trigger.

Brown had previously been arrested Aug. 11 for possession of methamphetamine. He was released the same day despite a long criminal history. According to the jail, it had no choice because it is at maximum capacity of 405 inmates and other prisoners had higher risk scores.

Lorance said it would have made a difference if Brown had been arrested for a violent crime.

"That would have put him at a higher risk. Then we have to look at the 405 people and consider them of which ones of those folks we are going to release and consider who's the greatest risk," she said.

The jail went through budget cuts last year and every day it's at capacity.

It's typical to release repeat offenders like Ricky Davis who was arrested 47 times. None of his crimes, like Brown, were serious enough to keep them locked up for a long time.

"If we had known that (he would allegedly shoot someone) we would have held him, if we had that crystal ball, we would have held him," Lorance said.

Court records didn't reveal a motive, and the victim's family didn't speak with KATU News. But Brown and Knorr may be connected through a Salem apartment. According to public records, it was the address of Knorr and his girlfriend, but a neighbor said they didn't live there anymore and that it was Brown who the neighbor saw coming and going as recently as Saturday.