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Jamal Smith claims passenger fired fatal shot in Highway 169 homicide

Smith's defense strategy is taking shape as his murder trial approaches next month in the death of youth baseball coach Jay Boughton.

PLYMOUTH, Minn — A month before he is set to stand trial for first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of youth baseball coach Jay Boughton on Highway 169 in Plymouth, Jamal Smith's defense strategy is becoming clear.

Smith plans to pin the blame on one of the other two men who were inside a rented SUV with him as he sped down the highway on a rainy night in July of 2021. Prosecutors say Smith opened fire and shot Boughton in the head following a brief altercation on the road. 

New court filings by Smith's defense team include a still image they say is from a video from the backseat passenger's phone. The photo shows the man holding a handgun with an extended magazine - very similar to the gun prosecutors believe was the murder weapon - and Smith's defense team says the footage was recorded the day after the shooting.

Credit: KARE 11

The criminal complaint against Smith refers to a Facebook livestream video of the defendant driving the SUV and flashing the gun hours prior to the shooting.

Smith contacted KARE 11 from the Hennepin County Jail and claimed he didn't know at first where the shot came from, but says he later came to believe the man in the backseat shot through an open window. KARE 11 is not naming the man Smith is blaming prior to the murder trial because he has not been charged with a crime.

"I heard the shot. I didn't know if someone was shooting at us. I didn't know if he shot in the air. Under no circumstances did I believe someone got murdered. None at all," Smith said during a video call from jail. 

Boughton was shot once in the head, right in front of his teenage son, as they returned home from a baseball game. The SUV driven by Smith was positioned in the lane next to Boughton's vehicle. 

Credit: Tim Browne
Jay Boughton was driving home from a youth baseball game with his son when he was fatally shot on Highway 169 in Plymouth.

According to court filings, the backseat passenger is a key witness for the prosecution. He told police he saw Smith with his arm extended after the gunshot as if he had just fired, and he is expected to testify about that in the upcoming trial. 

Smith's attorney argued during a recent hearing that the case should be dismissed because prosecutors failed to show the grand jury the image of the passenger holding what could be the murder weapon, but Judge Nicole Engisch denied the defense request.

After Smith contacted KARE 11, Judge Engisch issued a gag order covering all parties involved in the case to prevent them from talking about it any further with the press.

Smith's trial is scheduled to begin June 27.

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