Hwy 169 Fatal Shooting Suspect Makes First Court Appearance
Appearing in an orange jumpsuit and a disposable mask below his chin, the suspect in the fatal Highway 169 shooting made his first court appearance Thursday. The hearing was held virtually via Zoom.
Jamal Smith, 33, of Chicago, is charged with second-degree murder in the July 6 fatal shooting death of Jay Boughton on Highway 169 in Plymouth. The hearing was delayed by a day due to reports the suspect became “too violent” with sheriff’s deputies.
Smith’s defense attorney, Joseph McInnis, said those reports were “entirely incorrect” and asked the judge to admonish Hennepin County prosecutor Judith Cole. Cole told the judge those reports came from the defense attorney’s own colleague, Shauna Kieffer.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Nicole Engisch presided over Thursday’s hearing and set bail for Smith at $2 million with no conditions or $1.5 million with conditions. Those conditions include no possession of weapons and no contact with witnesses or the victim’s family. Judge Engisch denied a request for lower bail by the defense attorney, citing the nature of the crime and the suspect’s past criminal history.
“Setting high bail in my view is appropriate,” said Engisch.
Engisch noted that Smith has been “cooperative” for Thursday’s rescheduled hearing. According to the court proceedings, Smith has five previous felony convictions, all in the state of Illinois.
McInnis had argued for $250,000 in bail, noting that figure is still “extremely high, but it takes into account Mr. Smith’s financial circumstances.” He told the court that Smith has a son who is disabled living in Minnesota.
Smith Arrested in Illinois
Boughton was shot and killed July 6 while driving on southbound Highway 169 near Rockford Road. The investigation went on for more than a month. Smith was arrested on Aug. 24 in Decatur, Ill., about a three-hour drive south of Chicago. Plymouth Public Safety Director and Police Chief Erik Fadden described the case and subsequent arrest as finding “a needle in a haystack.”
The criminal complaint says the shooting stemmed from a brief traffic altercation. MnDOT surveillance video showed an SUV, believed to be a Chevy Suburban, “driving erratically and at a high rate of speed” before encountering Boughton’s vehicle. The complaint said the suspect’s vehicle was next to the victim’s vehicle for about 10 seconds when a shot was fired, striking Boughton in the head and killing him. The victim’s 15-year-old son was in the front seat and attempted to perform CPR on his father after their vehicle crashed.
Police eventually located a 2019 Chevy Suburban on July 23 at a towing impound lot. The SUV had been reported stolen by a rental car company. The complaint says the vehicle was seen prior to being found at a residence on Shelard Parkway, not far from where police believe the suspect exited from Highway 169.
The complaint says authorities met with a witness, identified as the suspect’s girlfriend. The witness stated she had confronted Smith about the crime and he said “the police don’t have any evidence.” The complaint said the witness reported that Smith tried to talk her into going to Chicago after the news story was broadcast to avoid “people that will be coming to talk to you,” referring to police.
A Facebook Live video, made hours before the shooting, also helped police identify Smith, the complaint states. A weapon held by the suspect was seen in the video that police matched to the shooting scene. Police also executed a search warrant to recover clothing items and belongings traced to Smith at the Shelard Parkway address.
Police continue to investigate two other people in connection to the shooting, but no additional arrests have been announced at this time.
Smith’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 11.