Hwy 169 Murder Suspect Accused of Threatening Jail Staff, Defense Says That ‘Isn’t True’
Jamal Smith, the Chicago man accused of fatally shooting a Crystal youth baseball coach on southbound Highway 169 in Plymouth, told the court on Monday that he is being deprived “equal protections of the law.”
Smith, who turned 34 last month, read a statement “questioning the integrity of the judicial system.”
“I am being victimized by constitutional and judicial violations that not only wrongfully imprisons me, but dehumanizes me,” said Smith. Hennepin County prosecutors called the accusations of inhumane treatment “outlandish.”
Monday’s virtual hearing was about whether to reinstate Smith’s phone privileges. Smith had his phone access revoked over jail evidence he had tampered with witnesses.
Smith is accused of fatally shooting Jay Boughton, 56, of Crystal, on southbound 169 near Rockford Road on July 6. He is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder through drive-by shooting and felony possession of a firearm while prohibited.
Attorney for Smith: ‘No evidence’ of witness tampering
In arguing to reinstate phone access, Smith’s public defender, Emmett Donnelly, denied that his client had unlawful exchanges with a witness.
“There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Smith has tampered with any witness, that has caused any witness to change their story, that has destroyed any evidence, or that has done anything in that manner to affect the state’s case,” said Donnelly.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Erin Lutz strongly denied that assertion.
“The court has listened to calls where there has been tampering with one of the state’s witnesses,” said Lutz.
Lutz said Smith made approximately 100 phone calls, including calls to the witness, despite having his phone privileges revoked. She told the court that Smith has used other inmates’ pins to make calls.
Prosecutor: Smith threatened jail staff
The county prosecutor said Smith has also made “specific threats of violence against jail staff.”
“They include [Smith] not following commands and directives from jail staff and not being in compliance with the rules in the jail,” Lutz said.
Lutz said that’s the reason jail staff housed Smith in segregation away from other inmates.
“He has not improved his behavior,” she said.
Donnelly denied the accusation saying “quite frankly that just isn’t true.”
“Mr. Smith is not a threat to any of the staff here in this jail. He has not been in trouble with people in this jail,” said Donnelly.
Smith’s public defender says the reason his client is being held away from other inmates is due to a written grievance with the jail, calling it an “administrative segregation.”
Hennepin County District Court Judge Nicole Engisch is presiding over the case. She says she will take phone issue under advisement and plans to issue an order “promptly.”
Another hearing scheduled for March 4 will rule on a motion whether to dismiss the murder indictment.
Police arrested Smith on Aug. 24 in Decatur, Ill., about 180 miles southwest of Chicago. He was extradited to the Hennepin County jail, where he remains held on $3.5 million bail.