Army Ranger Sentenced to 20 Years for Beating Security Guard to Death in Tacoma Courtroom

Tacoma, Washington – Family members of Denise Smith gathered in a Pierce County courtroom to witness the sentencing of 29-year-old Army Ranger Spc. Patrick Philip Byrne for beating her to death in 2021. Byrne received a 20-year prison term for the murder of Smith, who was working as a security guard in a downtown building at the time of her tragic death.

Emotions ran high in the courtroom as loved ones of Smith expressed their grief and anger over the loss of a kind-hearted individual with an infectious smile and laughter that brightened any room. The impact of Smith’s death was profound, leaving a void in the lives of those who knew her.

During the sentencing, Byrne’s defense pointed to his history of serious head injuries sustained prior to and during his military service as a possible explanation for his actions. However, the judge emphasized Byrne’s choices that fateful night, highlighting that his intoxication and subsequent violence were voluntary decisions.

Byrne pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the brutal beating and choking of Smith, which was captured on surveillance video. The attack, which lasted nearly ten minutes, involved Byrne using Smith’s keys to try to gouge out her eyes before ultimately choking her to death.

For Smith’s family, Byrne’s sentencing brought a bittersweet sense of closure. While the punishment may provide some solace, the pain of losing Smith in such a horrific manner will never fully heal. However, they find comfort in knowing that justice has been served and that Byrne will be held accountable for his actions.