Murder charges have been dropped against one of the two suspects in last year’s “good Samaritan” killing in Baltimore.
Valeria Smith, 28, is now charged as an “accessory after the fact” to first-degree murder, according to her attorney, Brandon Mead. That charge was confirmed by Maryland court records.
Smith, along with her father Keith Smith, was arrested in March in connection with the killing of Smith’s stepmother, Jacquelyn Smith.
“Both Ms. Smith and I are happy that the state has seen that she is not responsible for the untimely death of Mrs. Jacquelyn Smith,” Mead said Tuesday.
“They’ve looked at the physical evidence and what there’s probable cause to prove — and what they’ve determined, and what we’re happy that they’ve determined, is the most reasonable charge is accessory after the fact.”
The December 2018 killing outraged Baltimore residents.
Immediately after Jacquelyn Smith’s death, Baltimore police said in a statement that she had stopped to give money to a woman who appeared to have a baby and a sign asking for help. A man approached, police said, thanked the family for the money, then tried to grab Jacquelyn Smith’s wallet.
“A struggle ensued,” police said at the time, and the man stabbed Jacquelyn Smith in the torso before running away along with the woman who had the sign. Jacquelyn Smith died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
At the time, Keith Smith spoke with CNN affiliate WJZ about his wife’s murder, saying the man “snatched her necklace, and before I knew it, the girl snatched the little pocketbook from the seat and they both ran. … I jumped out the car to run, but I heard my wife screaming, so I came back to the car.”
“She was just everything to me,” he said of Jacquelyn Smith. “My everything. We called each other soul mates.”
Police initially searched for two people — the woman with the sign and a man in his 30s with a goatee — but came up with nothing.
In March, Keith and Valeria Smith were taken into custody by Texas authorities in Harlingen, near the Mexican border.
They were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, and a weapons charge in connection with Jacquelyn Smith’s death. Police at the time declined to provide any details on the evidence that lead to those charges.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office declined to comment this week on the decision to drop the murder charges against Valeria Smith. Nicole Harris-Crest, the office’s chief of external affairs, told CNN she could not speak about an “open and pending matter.”
An attorney for Keith Smith, Natalie Finegar, expressed doubt about the changed charge.
“It’ll be very interesting to see what evidence the state actually has,” she told CNN. “I’m looking forward to getting my discovery and diving into this because it seems like it was hastily investigated and charged.”
Maryland court records show that Keith Smith is still facing first-degree murder and weapons charges.