Bill Smithson On Trial
Yesterday, evidence was presented that suggested Smithson killed 23-year-old Jason Shephard in a drug fueled attempted to have sex with him.
The most damning testimony came from Smithson former "partner" Daniel Hall, who said he got a phone call at his parents home in Virginia Beach from Smithson asking him to come up to his Thornbury home because he needed help.
Hall, hoping Smithson wanted to reconcile, jumped in his car drove 4 and half hours to meet him at his Tanguy Road house.
But upon getting there, Smithson was acting all "sketchy" and "paranoid."
Hall said when he asked Bill if there was anybody else in the house, he said "Yes."
So strange was Bill's behavior he asked asked him if the person was alive.
"He said, No."
It was after that, Smithson led him to Shephard's body. It was in an upstairs bedroom covered with a sheet.
Hall said he felt for pulse but there was none. Hall said he told Smithson to call the police but Smithson said he couldn't because of how his family would react.
It is defense attorney Guy Smith's hope to point the finger at another potential killer, Fen Bruce Covington, who was allegedly at Smithson's home the night of the killing.
Under cross examination, Hall said Covington typically supplied Smithson and him with drugs, including crystal meth and GHB, a sexual stimulant.
Hall said that when Covington stayed at Smithson's home he typically stayed in the bedroom where Shephard's body was found.
He described Covington as someone who was only invited over to parties at Smithson's because he brought the drugs, otherwise he "creeped" them out.
Hall, who said he still cares for Smithson, tried to walk back from a statement he gave police after returning to Virginia Beach, which led to Smithson's arrest. He said he couldn't sure if Smithson ever told him about a fantasy he had to slip GHB, which is also known as the "date-rape drug," to an unsuspecting person, for the purpose of making that person pliable for sex.
Under questioning from Smith, Hall said that "slippin' G" was slang in the gay and drug-taking community for "taking it" voluntarily.
So far though, the defense's attempt to implicate Covington as the Shephard's possible killer, remain fairly weak.
According to Hall, Smithson told him he was the "only person" who knew about the body in his house.
Furthermore, a statement from Smithson's niece, was stipulated into evidence. According to the statement Smithson implicated himself as having "hurt someone." It was apparently his niece with whom Smithson was talking on his cell phone when he was arrested. He was at the Glenwood Cemetery visiting his grandmother's grave.
The prosecution also showed how Smithson went to great lengths to mislead police by filing out a missing persons report on Shephard, who was interning with the company for which Smithson worked.
Shephard's body was eventually found in Smithson's basement after his arrest.
For those of us who know Bill, his arrest was beyond shocking. Ebullient, friendly, happy go-lucky is how I remembered him before he left the Daily Times.
In court, friends and family members take up one side of the visitors gallery while the family and friends of Jason Shephard take up the other side.
Bill looks thinner, than I remember him, gaunt and shrunken. During testimony he frequently confers with his lawyers and takes notes. Occasionally, during breaks in testimony, he'll look back and smile at someone he knows.
Monday's session ended early and after the jury was released, Bill stood and nodding greetings to many on his side of the aisle. With the jury safely out, Sheriff's deputies, motioned Bill toward them. He apparently knows the drill well. He turned his back and was handcuffed, then led out of the courtroom and back to jail.
This is a death penalty case, the killing of a person while in the commission of an attempted rape. That is the prosecution's theory of the case.
It will continue this morning.
NOTES: It's weird being at a murder trial and knowing so many of the participants, including the suspect. Defense attorney Guy Smith's daughter, Lizzy, is the goalie for the Delaware County Special Olympics Soccer Team. Jake Spencer is a teammate. The weekend before last, the team for the first time won gold at the state tournament at Villanova. Guy couldn't be there because he was working 24/7 on the Smithson case.
Prosecutor Tom Lawrie is a former member of the Daily Times Community Advisor Board. And of course, Bill is a former ad salesman for the paper.
Also yesterday, during the trial some idiot left his cell on and it went off in the middle of testimony. That idiot was Spencerblog. Our apologies to Judge Barry Dozor for disturbing his courtroom.