Judge Issues Gag Order in Hwy 169 Murder Case
In a significant court development this week, a judge has issued a temporary gag order in the case against Highway 169 fatal shooting suspect Jamal Smith.
The order issued by Hennepin County District Court Judge Nicole Engisch prevents Smith or anyone involved in the court case from releasing information to the public.
According to details provided in a motion hearing this week, prosecutors say Smith spoke to an unidentified media outlet to discuss specifics on the case, including his opinions on the truthfulness of certain witnesses. The prosecution argues the release of that information could taint the jury pool.
A grand jury indicted Smith last fall with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of youth baseball coach Jay Boughton. The incident occurred July 6 on southbound Highway 169 near Rockford Road in Plymouth. At the time, Plymouth Public Safety Director Erik Fadden described the matter as a “traffic altercation” that preceded the shooting. Fadden said something as minor as a lane change could have set the shooter off.
Smith has denied shooting Boughton. In an April 12 court hearing, Smith said there’s an “endless amount of physical evidence” that he did not commit the crime. He contends another passenger in the SUV fired the fatal shot. In addition to Smith, who was driving, there was a passenger in the front seat and another sitting in the back.
Gag orders, although not used often, have become increasingly more common. A gag order was temporarily issued in 2020 involving the case of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd.
This is also not the first time Smith has gotten in legal hot water.
Last fall, Judge Engisch revoked Smith’s jail phone privileges, citing the defendant’s repeated efforts to manipulate witnesses. That included Smith calling one witness 87 times.
Smith, 34, of Chicago, is scheduled to go on trial June 27. He remains jailed held on a $3.5 million bond.