MINNEAPOLIS — Day two of the Jamal Smith murder trial began with a small victory for the defense, who complained Monday that supporters of Jay Boughton and his family could be impacting the jury.
The judge ruled the yellow shirts worn by supporters of Boughton's family will no longer be allowed in the courtroom. The ruling comes as the state began laying out the investigative work that led police to the suspected killer, Jamal Smith.
Smith is charged with both first and second-degree murder in the death of the well-known youth baseball coach, who was fatally shot last July following what investigators describe as a short confrontation on Highway 169 in Plymouth. Prosecutors say Smith fired the fatal shot while driving a SUV, while the defense insists a passenger in the vehicle is responsible for Boughton's death.
KARE 11's Lou Raguse says the defense complained to Engisch Monday that the yellow shirts could influence the jury, and the judge noted that in a previous trial she had ordered courtroom attendees not to "wear or carry or display material...that refers to the parties or victims.
Prosecutors objected to the ruling, which Judge Engisch said can be interpreted broadly.
During the afternoon court session Plymouth Police Department Captain Mike Reed, who led the investigation, testified that on the night of the shooting police knew they were looking for a white or silver SUV, but otherwise "they had nothing."
Reed testified that a tip from a semi driver who saw the speeding SUV put police on the right path as they collected MnDOT traffic video. He revealed the footage eventually helped track the path to the Blue Pearl Animal Hospital off Highway 694 in Arden Hills, where police got clearer surveillance photos to show the public, and identified who they later learned was Jamal Smith as the driver.
A tow truck driver who saw the SUV on the news then reported to police that he recognized the abandoned vehicle when he hooked up to tow it. Investigators went on to testify they found an ID and receipt showing Jamal Smith's name.
GPS data from the vehicle led police to these apartments off Shelard Parkway in St. Louis Park where Smith's girlfriend was living.
10 a.m. Testimony resumes with prosecution witnesses
Testimony got underway shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday, with the prosecution calling Lorren Jackson from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office. Jackson told the jury panel that Boughton died of a gunshot wound to his head and neck, and that the manner of death was homicide. He said Boughton would have been unable to survive damage the bullet did to the arteries in his neck.
Raguse says during cross examination, defense attorney Emmett Donnelly implied that the path of the bullet was less likely to come from the driver's seat of the Suburban, but in redirect questioning by the prosecution Jackson said as a medical examiner there is no way for him to tell where the shooter was located.
Next on the stand was Minneapolis police officer Ben Chaput, who testified about the SUV allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of Boughton. Chaput told jurors that the Suburban was reported stolen out of Chicago and found abandoned in north Minneapolis, but he was unable to search it as the vehicle was locked. Going through a vehicle is usually done before it is searched.
Prosecutors then called Schmidt Towing accounting manager Jennifer Modlin, who testified that a car rental company hired them to recover the Suburban from the Minneapolis impound lot and return it to Chicago. Modlin told jurors her driver's face turned white as he told her he recognized the vehicle. "I know you're not going to believe this, but I think we have THAT Suburban," he reportedly told Modlin, referring to the news clips they had seen about the fatal Highway 169 shooting. The two compared side-by-side photos, figured they were right and then called Plymouth Police.
Monday was a busy and significant day for the prosecution's case, with opening statements and 10 witnesses being called to the stand. Among them, were Boughton's wife Kristin and teenage son Harrison, who was with his father in the family truck at the time he was fatally shot.
Smith's defense team made clear during opening statements Monday that they will not contest their client was indeed driving the SUV, but repeatedly told jurors that evidence in the case will not support his conviction.
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