He Blamed Panhandler for Killing Wife, but Lie Fell Apart

Keith Smith convicted of murder in Baltimore; daughter helped him concoct fake story
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2019 2:31 AM CST
Updated Dec 9, 2021 12:26 PM CST
Cops: Husband, Not Panhandler Killed Baltimore Woman
Keith Smith is shown in an undated photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department.   (Baltimore Police Department via AP)

(Newser) Update: A Maryland man has been convicted of murdering his wife before trying to pin it on a panhandler. Keith Smith, 55, was found guilty Thursday of stabbing Jacquelyn Smith in 2018, reports the Baltimore Sun. Smith told police a panhandler killed his wife while trying to steal her purse, an accusation that drew national headlines. However, the story soon fell apart. Smith's adult daughter, Valeria Smith, previously pleaded guilty to acting as an accessory after the slaying, for helping her father try to get away with the crime. Our original story from March 2019 follows:

After Keith Smith and daughter Valeria Smith told police that a panhandler fatally stabbed Keith Smith's wife, Jacquelyn Smith, panhandlers nationwide faced increased suspicion. Police now believe the real killers were Keith and Valeria Smith. They were arrested Sunday in Texas, near the US-Mexico border, and charged with first-degree murder in the December stabbing death of the 52-year-old woman, Fox reports. Keith Smith, 54, told police on Dec. 1 that his 28-year-old daughter was in the back seat and Jacquelyn Smith was in the front seat when she gave money to a woman with an infant begging at a Baltimore intersection.

Smith claimed that after his wife rolled down her window, a man arrived, tried to steal her wallet, and stabbed her before running off with the panhandler. Officials including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh accused the Smiths of using the city's reputation for violence to try to cover up their crime, the Baltimore Sun reports. "To now learn that family members staged this brutal killing is beyond belief and represents a double tragedy," Pugh said in a statement. "They were responsible for taking Jacquelyn's life with unconscionable cruelty and contrived to do so in our city under the guise of random violence, exploiting the legitimate fears of our residents." Some of Jacquelyn Smith's relatives say they doubted the story from the beginning. (Read more Baltimore stories.)

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