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Colorado Springs man held in killing of mother is mentally ill, attorneys say

The Gazette - 1/15/2019

A Colorado Springs man accused of cutting his mother’s throat stared intently in court Monday as prosecutors showed photos from her autopsy.

Instead of averting his eyes, Lake William Smith, 24, appeared to squint for a better view as authorities laid out in clinical detail the aftermath of his alleged attack on Judy Smith, 47.

Her blanked-wrapped body was discovered Oct. 26 by a maintenance worker at Summit Creek Apartments, 1940 S. Chelton Road.

During a preliminary hearing in 4th Judicial District Court, a detective testified that Smith confessed to killing her two days earlier, saying he slipped into her bedroom one minute before 3 a.m. and repeatedly stabbed her in the neck with a pocketknife.

She crawled into the hallway asking for help and moaning that she was thirsty, he said. He brought her water, but she couldn’t drink.

Then he inflicted the deadly blow with a meat cleaver.

“He described using both hands and pushing it down until it hit her spine,” Colorado Springs police detective Wayne Bichel testified.

During cross-examination, Smith’s attorneys focused on indications that Smith suffered from delusions, including a recent episode in which he took a bus to California for an unannounced visit to his grandmother. He abandoned the trip 20 miles from her doorstep because of fears he was being followed.

No diagnoses were given in court, but according to an arrest affidavit, Smith said he had been hearing voices before the stabbing.

Public defenders representing Smith emphasized that his interrogation lasted more than six hours. Smith denied any involvement for five of those hours until confessing amid complaints that he was tired and hungry.

Then, after admitting that he fatally stabbed his mother, Smith asked if he would be released, Bichel testified under cross-examination.

Police searching Smith’s van found a meat cleaver under the driver’s seat and Judy Smith’s missing pocketbook, from which $40 had been removed.

Smith also admitted to setting fire Oct. 20 to a stack of papers outside his mother’s front door, with a propane tank inches away.

At the hearing’s conclusion, District Judge David Prince ordered that Smith face trial on charges of first-degree murder, burglary and robbery. The judge also found that evidence is sufficient to conclude Smith probably will be convicted, triggering a no-bond hold under state law.

Smith is an inmate at the El Paso County jail. It’s unclear if he is receiving psychiatric treatment.

The killing is the latest in Colorado Springs involving a defendant with a history of mental illness.

Among other pending cases is that of Jennifer Lee Calhoon, accused of stabbing her boyfriend 62 times amid fears of a plot to poison her, and of Malik Murphy, 21, who confessed to fatally stabbing two younger siblings because he wanted to be alone in his house.

 
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