Duarte man to face trial in 3 slayings — (Pasadena Star News)

Original article no longer available

Pasadena Star News

By Gene Maddaus, Staff Writer

Aug 3, 2005

PASADENA — A judge ordered a 57-year-old Duarte man Tuesday to face trial for the triple-killing of his wife, his father-in-law and his son.

Murray Matthew Smith Sr. has been held in county jail since allegedly killing his family during a rampage on March 13, 2004.

In testimony Tuesday, a sheriff’s sergeant said that Smith had confessed to the crimes. Investigators found about 100 spent AK-47 shell casings inside and outside Smith’s house at 943 Lewiston Ave.

A medical examiner testified that Smith’s wife, Wanda Smith, had 18 bullet wounds. His son, Murray Smith Jr., had 29, and his 80-year-old invalid father-in-law, Joshua Harmon, was shot 23 times.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Jill Thomas probed elements of the confession that suggested Smith may have been in an altered mental state during the shootings.

At one point in the confession, Smith said that he is diabetic, and said he may have shot his family because he was suffering from low blood sugar, Sgt. Martin Rodriguez testified.

Smith told investigators he had “a funny feeling” in his head as he was firing, Rodriguez said.

Murray Jr. and Wanda Smith were the first to be killed, on the front steps of the family’s home. After that, Smith said he went inside, “looking for Wanda.”

Thomas cited that incongruous statement as suggestive of Smith’s altered state of consciousness. Harmon was inside, and was killed in his chair.

Smith told detectives that he was taking Celexa, an anti-depressant, which his wife called “lunatic pills.”

At several points during the confession, Smith expressed deep remorse for the crimes.

“I hate what I did,” he said. “I should have shot myself.”

Smith later fired at a neighbor, Anthony Nava, who had come out to see what was going on, according to Rodriguez’s testimony. Nava ducked to the ground and was not hit.

Nava told detectives that Smith “didn’t look crazy — he looked angry,” Rodriguez testified.

Pasadena Superior Court Judge Judson Morris ruled there was enough evidence for Smith to stand trial, and ordered him back to court on Aug. 17.

— Gene Maddaus can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at gene.maddaus@sgvn.com.