BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Police picked up a father and daughter captured near Mexico earlier this month and brought them back to Maryland to face murder charges in a case that’s grabbed nationwide attention.
Police say on December 1, 2018, Keith and Valeria Smith stabbed Jacquelyn Smith — Keith’s wife — in Baltimore and claimed a panhandler did it.
The two held a tearful press conference following the killing.
Brandon Mead, who represents Valeria Smith, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren his client will fight the charges. “Ms. Smith certainly maintains her innocence. She looks forward to the opportunity to prove that in court.”
“We don’t know a lot yet,” he said. Referring to charging documents, Meade told WJZ, “It’s 15 pages of a lot of circumstantial evidence.”
Meade said the flight from Texas to Baltimore was delayed. “We’re looking forward to actually sitting down with Ms. Smith discussing the case in person and going over everything that the state says they have with regards to the case.“
According to charging documents, the Smiths gave inconsistent stories and cell phone data puts them in Druid Hill Park, far from the East Baltimore’s block where they claimed Smith was stabbed.
Keith Smith originally told investigators that a woman with a baby came up to their car and asked for money.
His wife gave her $10. Then, a man with that woman approached the car to thank his wife but instead stabbed her and snatched her purse.
They had all been at the American Legion in West Baltimore in the hours before the murder, where a witness, Cheryl Coleman, told Hellgren she checked them in at the door and they never appeared to argue.
Police say after a review of 27 cameras in East Baltimore, they never saw Smith’s car in the area where the suspects claimed the panhandling incident happened.
According to charging documents, police wiretapped Keith Smith’s phone. They also interviewed his brother who told them Keith wanted to “get rid of” Jacquelyn because she wanted a divorce.
He had a prior violent criminal record that included fleeing police and multiple bank robberies.
Some of Jacquelyn Smith’s family members believe her money was the motive.
“The death penalty would be too easy,” said Marcel Trisvane, Jacquelyn’s brother.
He said he never believed Keith and Valeria Smith’s story and made that clear to detectives. He thanked them for an “awesome job.”
Keith and Valeria Smith both face life in prison and are likely to have court appearances Thursday.
Police have not revealed much about the evidence or how they believe Jacquelyn Smith’s killing unfolded.
According to charging documents, she suffered five stab wounds while in the passenger seat.