MINNEAPOLIS — Citing extensive publicity and alleged irregularities in grand jury proceedings, lawyers for Jamal Smith have filed a motion to dismiss a charge of first-degree murder against him.
Smith was indicted the in shooting death of youth local baseball coach Jay Boughton last July 6th on Highway 169 in Plymouth. Investigators say when Smith fired a single shot from a Chevy Suburban into the pickup truck the 56-year-old Boughton was driving, fatally striking the coach in the head.
Boughton and his teenage son were returning home from a baseball game in Coon Rapids. The boy suffered injuries in the crash.
In a motion filed in Hennepin District Court Monday, Smith’s attorneys accuse local prosecutors of knowingly allowing “perjured testimony” before the grand jury, and failing to present “exculpatory evidence” that raise questions about whether Smith was the actual shooter, or someone else in the vehicle.
The phrase, "perjured testimony," means there were false statements accepted into the court.
The motion claims a witness in the car Smith was driving was allowed to testify that he never held the murder weapon and didn’t know what happened to it, even though defense lawyers claim prosecutors were aware of a social media post showing the witness with what appears to be the same gun. The motion says that information would “obliterate” the credibility of the witness and raise questions about whether Smith fired the fatal shot.
Smith’s attorneys also argue that 14 of the 18 grand jurors had been exposed to news reports about the case - and that one of them may have improperly used a cellphone to look up case details – which “contaminated the proceeding.”
The defense team says prosecutors should have questioned the grand jurors about their impartiality if they saw “highly detailed information” about the case in earlier news reports. The motion specifically cites reports aired on KARE 11 before the grand jury indictment was returned.
Court documents say KARE 11’s stories included “images of the alleged murder weapon, a Facebook live video of Mr. Smith with the alleged weapon,” a map of the Suburban’s route, a police report alleging Smith had pointed a gun at other vehicles and information about guns and ammunition found when Smith was arrested.
In a separate motion, the defense team asks the court to disclose demographic information about the make-up of the grand jury. If minorities were not properly represented, Smith's team argues that fact could also be grounds for dismissing the first-degree murder indictment.
A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for March 4th.
This is not the first legal challenge filed by Jamal Smith and his legal team. In November a judge ruled that Smith's jail house phone privileges could be revoked after prosecutors alleged he was tampering with potential witnesses. His attorneys said curtailing Smith's phone use, except to discuss the case with his team, is a violation of his freedom of speech, an argument Judge Nicole Engisch rebuffed.
A new motion filed by Smith's team asks the court to reconsider the revocation of phone privileges based on a recently-signed affidavit in which a key witness denies that Smith “harassed or threatened her in any way.”
His public defenders argue “no factual or legal basis exists to cut off Mr. Smith’s contact with the outside world.”
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