Smoot mur­der charge goes to grand jury

Mur­der sus­pect cur­rently out on bond

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By Patty Hardee

Af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in Rap­pa­han­nock County Dis­trict Court on De­cem­ber 28, Judge Melissa Cupp cer­ti­fied the first de­gree mur­der charge against Flint Hill res­i­dent Randy Smoot to a grand jury.

Smoot, 47, was charged Oc­to­ber 21 with ag­gra­vated ma­li­cious wound­ing af­ter he al­legedly as­saulted Jonas “Jay” Alther with a heavy ob­ject, be­lieved to be an in­dus­trial flash­light, on Oc­to­ber 19.

Hours later, af­ter Alther suc­cumbed to his in­juries, Smoot was also charged with first de­gree mur­der.

He was be­ing held at the Rap­pa­han­nock Shenan­doah War­ren Re­gional Jail un­til he was re­leased on se­cured bond.

In the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, Rap­pa­han­nock County Sher­iff ’s in­ves­ti­ga­tor James Jones played a record­ing of the call Smoot made to the RCSO fol­low­ing the as­sault.

In the record­ing, Smoot ac­knowl­edges hav­ing a “knock-down, drag-out” fight over the flash­light with Alther in the drive­way of Alther’s home off Har­ris Hol­low Road. Smoot then asks the sher­iff’s of­fice to send a deputy to check on Alther.

“I just want to make sure I didn’t hurt him,” Smoot says in the record­ing.

But Jones tes­ti­fied at the hear­ing that sub­se­quent in­ter­views with Smoot re­vealed other de­tails that ap­peared to con­flict with Smoot’s ini­tial ac­count.

Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Art Goff, at the same time, dropped the ma­li­cious wound­ing charge and changed it to mur­der.

As he ex­plained in an email to this news­pa­per on Tues­day, “The ma­li­cious wound­ing charge merges with the mur­der [charge]. It was charged when Jay Alther was still alive. Once he died, mur­der is the ap­pro­pri­ate charge.”

The grand jury will con­vene on Jan­uary 8 to hear the mur­der charge.

In the record­ing, Smoot ac­knowl­edges hav­ing a “knock-down, drag-out” fight over the flash­light with Alther in the drive­way of Alther’s home off Har­ris Hol­low Road. Smoot then asks the sher­iff ’s of­fice to send a deputy to check on Alther. “I just want to make sure I didn’t hurt him,” Smoot says in the record­ing.

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