Attorney for Hwy. 169 Shooting Suspect Argues Against Making Jail Calls Public
The public defender representing Jamal Smith, the Highway 169 fatal shooting suspect, argues that jail calls made by Smith should not be made public, saying they would prejudice potential jurors.
Emmett Donnelly, Smith’s attorney, argued before Judge Nicole Engisch saying jail calls are “private data.” He cited Minnesota statute 13.85.
The jail call issue came up during an Oct. 19 hearing when Hennepin County prosecutors said they have evidence that Smith has been tampering with witnesses. Engisch later issued a ruling to revoke Smith’s phone privileges.
“The public has no right to know any of the details of Mr. Smith’s jail housing situation, they have no right to know who his visitors are, they have no right to know what phone calls he has made, who he has talked to or what he’s talked to them about,” argued Donnelly. “They have no right to what he ate for breakfast.”
Media outlets argue, including KARE11’s Lou Raguse who testified before Judge Engisch Wednesday, that 13 pieces of jail call evidence should be public because it’s now “an exhibit in the court.” Raguse cited the judge’s order that stated records related to the judicial branch are “presumptively public.”
Raguse said the Kim Potter case had more pre-trial publicity and right now “they have no problem picking a jury.” He also mentioned the Derek Chauvin had much more pre-trial publicity, including pre-trial video exhibits that later were not admissible as evidence.
Smith, 33, of Chicago, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder through drive-by shooting and felony possession of a firearm while prohibited. He’s accused of shooting and killing Jay Boughton, 56, of Crystal, on southbound 169 near Rockford Road on July 6.
Police arrested Smith on Aug. 24 in Decatur, Ill., about 180 miles southwest of Chicago. Smith remains held in the Hennepin County jail on $3.5 million bail.
Prosecution: Jail Calls Tampered with Witnesses
During the Oct. 19 hearing, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Erin Lutz said that Smith talked to people while in the Macon County, Ill., jail in an attempt to delete his Facebook page. The prosecution considers the suspect’s Facebook page a critical piece of evidence. A criminal complaint against Smith said police used Facebook video to link him to the case.
Lutz also said Smith instructed one of the witnesses to recant what she told law enforcement while in Hennepin County Jail. Additionally, Lutz said Smith made phone calls talking to an individual about “ending the life” of someone bothering his girlfriend in Illinois while in the Macon County jail. Donnelly argued that latter call is not germane to the case.
Judge Engisch took the jail call matter under advisement. She plans to issue a written order on whether to make the evidence public.
The judge also scheduled Smith’s next court date for Jan. 3.