Football Player Makes Plea In Killing Of Portland State University Student

Keenan Harpole, left and Amara Marluke, right

Keenan Harpole was in the Multnomah County Circuit Court last Thursday with his attorney Benjamin Kim where he plead not guilty during a brief appearance to killing a PSU student. The former Portland State University football player was responding to charges of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon in the death of a fellow student.

Keenan R. Harpole, who is 20, is accused of shooting and killing PSU freshman Amara Marluke,19, at her apartment building near campus at around 1 a.m. on April 4th. The suspect was quiet the entire arraignment inside the Justice Center. His attorney briefly acknowledged receiving the indictment.

Gun crimes in Portland has been a hot topic. The student’s death marks one of the city’s 30 homicides so far this year. The Portland Medium has covered the increase in city violence for months. The number of shootings is now two more than Portland had seen by this time last year. There were at least 92 homicides in Portland in 2021 which is a record for the city.

After the shooting, authorities said that Harpole left and ended up in Bend. There, he turned himself in and was arrested in his hometown by Deschutes County sheriff’s. Before the shooting, he was living in Beaverton and studying Applied Health and Fitness. He was a runningback for Portland State Vikings. 

The entire story reads like a tragic domestic violence novel. The two students had been romantic. Marluke was trying to break family curses with her education pursuits. She had spent her early years in and out of the foster system before being adopted at age 9. She had gained the live and respect of many.

Sever hundred students came out to PSU’s student center for a memorial that honored Amara Marluke. Media are stating that she was an activist, artist and co-president of the university’s Black Student Union. She was planning to major in music or art therapy. 

“She was relentless and graduated with honors at 18, despite being two years behind when we adopted her,” her mother, Amy Marluke, said during the memorial, according to The Vanguard, PSU’s student newspaper. She attended Beaverton Sunset High School. Harold remains in custody without bail.