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Posted February 8, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Councilwoman's slaying an open case

Prince Edward County drops count against Smith's brother accusing him of plotting to kill her

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

BERRYVILLE -- Councilwoman Gail Smith's slaying in 2009 remains an open murder case, according to town Police Chief Neal White.

But authorities have yet to charge or identify a suspect in her murder.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Prince Edward County recently dropped a charge against Smith's brother, Timothy Roy Smith Jr., accusing him of plotting with others nearly three months before her death to hire someone to kill the councilwoman.

The Police Department continues to investigate Smith's death, according to White.

"We've been working on it for quite some time, and of course this charge with Tim Smith Jr. was for solicitation with regards to his sister so we continue to look at that as a circumstance in that area to bring about the person who murdered Miss Smith so we continue to work on that case," White said.

"I think we're getting closer [to a suspect] all the time," the chief said. "There's information that comes out that we follow up on leads constantly so that case is not in any type of inactive state or anything. We continue to work on it. It's just that some cases are more difficult to prove than others.

"That's just the facts of the matter so, especially when we're dealing with a charge as substantial as homicide, yes, we want to get it cleared and get justice for the family but we also want to make sure we're doing it accurately and to the best of our abilities so that it is able to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

White noted police have not found any "smoking gun" evidence recently but they continue to track leads in the case.

Timothy Smith, 51, last known to live in Burkeville, had been scheduled to appear for a hearing Tuesday in Prince Edward County Circuit Court where he is charged with criminal solicitation for murder. But, according to online court records, a judge granted a motion by the commonwealth seeking to dismiss the felony count against the defendant. The motion allows prosecutors to bring the charge back against Timothy Smith in the future.

James Ennis, commonwealth's attorney for Prince Edward County, did not return several messages left with his office Tuesday.

White referred questions about Timothy Smith's charge in Prince Edward County to Ennis.
"I believe that one of the issues was trying to get a witness before the court, and I think they were having some trouble with that," White said.

Timothy Smith served two years of a 10-year prison term for a single count of criminal solicitation after pleading guilty to the charge in Nottoway County Circuit Court on Aug. 4, 2010. Timothy Smith entered an Alford plea, by which he maintained his innocence but did not wish to risk a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. The charge accused him of soliciting the murder on June 1, 2008, a plot that White has said involved unleashing venomous snakes into the woman's home. The court dismissed a second count of the same offense and a conspiracy charge against Timothy Smith.

The Virginia Department of Corrections records showed he was released into supervised probation on July 27, 2011.

Berryville police found Gail Smith shot dead in her home at 301 Pickett Court on July 30, 2009. A search warrant filed in Clarke County Circuit Court indicated she feared her brother -- who along with her sister, Debbie L. Smith, objected to Gail Smith's attempts to control their father's finances -- would try to harm her. The affidavit states Gail Smith told friends "that if anything happened to her to tell police to 'look at her brother.'"

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