Wife of man shot in Portland WinCo asks killer: ‘Why would you do this horrible thing?’
Becky Underwood confronted her husband’s killer Monday with a question that has been nagging at her since his fatal shooting inside a Portland WinCo on St. Patrick’s Day in 2021.
“I’d like to know why — why did you do that?” she asked as 40-year-old Blake Daniels listened from the defense table at his sentencing hearing.
“I don’t know how I’m going to live without him,” she said. “We just wanted to be together. You took it all away. … Why would you do this horrible thing?”
She and husband Jay Underwood, 60, were just five months shy of their 30th wedding anniversary when he was killed at the store on Northeast 122nd Avenue.
Her husband was her caretaker for about 10 years and supported her as she battled breast cancer and other health problems, she said.
Daniels apologized but didn’t offer much of an explanation. He said if he could, he would trade places with Jay Underwood, a friend who worked with him on cars and was at their house hours earlier.
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done,” Daniels said. “I was not on my medication when all this happened.”
After his arrest, he told court officials that he suffers from schizophrenia and is not taking his medication.
Multnomah County Judge Christopher J. Marshall sentenced Daniels to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting Jay Underwood, gunning down a couple in the WinCo parking lot to get away and his ex-girlfriend less than two weeks earlier threatened with a gun.
Jay Underwood went to the grocery store with Daniels to buy cabbage and other groceries, his wife said. Underwood drove to the WinCo. at 9:43 p.m. and entered the store alone, according to video surveillance.
Less than 10 minutes later, Daniels got out of Underwood’s Toyota and entered the store. Holding a gallon jug of water, a box of Hostess cupcakes, he walked over to Underwood, who was standing with the shelves of bread across the store’s cashier aisles.
Caught on video, Daniels reached into his right pocket, pulled out a gun and fired at Underwood at close range, according to the video.
Underwood immediately fell to the ground. A single 40-caliber shell casing lay about 10 feet from his body. He was dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest, Portland homicide detective Brad Clifton previously testified in court.
“He did absolutely nothing wrong when he was killed,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Marrero told the judge.
Daniels continued walking and turned down a checkout aisle and exited the store. Once outside, he got into the back seat of an occupied green Subaru Forester that had just pulled into the parking lot, video shows.
He held up a black handgun and ordered the motorist to drive, according to the detective. The man and his wife quickly bailed out of their car and Daniels took off in it.
Daniels showed up at a friend’s house that night. At one point, he broke down crying, his friend told police, saying he had killed someone.
Daniels also injected himself with methamphetamine and left, his friend told police. The friend said Daniels sold and used meth, heroin and cocaine, and used human growth hormone and steroids, according to court records.
As part of the negotiated agreement, Daniels pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter with a firearm, first-degree robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the Underwood shooting and to unlawful use of a weapon in the threat of his ex-girlfriend, Heather Casillas.
Nine days before Daniels killed Jay Underwood, he was released on his own recognizance from jail on the pending charge of being a felon in possession of a gun stemming from the threat against his ex-girlfriend.
Casillas said she suffered from heightened anxiety because of Daniels’ threat to kill her. As she was packing her belongings to leave the couple’s apartment, Daniels grabbed a gun from under a mattress and pointed it at her until Casillas’ brother grabbed it away, she said.
The gun was loaded with a round in the chamber, according to court documents.
“My life was changed forever because of that day,” Casillas said in a statement that the prosecutor read on her behalf in court.
Daniels was sentenced to 20 years for murdering Underwood and five years for using a gun that constitutes domestic violence.
For the first 15 years, he will not be able to earn any credit from his prison sentence for good time served, according to the agreement.
— Maxine Bernstein
Email [email protected]; 503-221-8212
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