Monday, October 27, 2014

Dad ruled competent to stand trial in death of 5-week-old son; parents had just separated and baby killed during father's visitation (Winfield, West Virginia)

Still doing case updates on the killer dad and custody lists. This update comes from last summer.

Dad ROBERT JEREMY SMITH is accused of killing his 5-week-old son during visitation.  The parents had separated.

Though the father has a typical cover story regarding the boy's death (he "dropped" him), that doesn't exactly explain why the police found a bloody hammer in the house. Or why the baby had abrasions on his forehead and multiple skull fractures. Or why Dad cut his own throat in an apparent suicide attempt. Or why the baby's body was found in the back seat of a car.

Notice that Smith's own mother filed a domestic violence petition to gain custody of his first child  (from an earlier relationship) when that child showed up at the hospital with a "suspicious" injury. The mother's mother also claimed that Smith could be "controlling" and "violent."

Of course that petition was dismissed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Evaluation says Hurricane man accused of killing infant son competent to stand trial

By Ryan Quinn, Staff writer

WINFIELD, W.Va. — A psychiatric evaluation of the Hurricane man accused of killing his 5-week-old son has concluded that he’s competent to stand trial and states that he has “indicated a desire to defend himself and be judged not guilty.”

The evaluation, filed in Putnam County Circuit Court on Thursday, states that Robert Jeremy Smith said he wouldn’t consider a plea bargain because it would be an admission of guilt, but “later entertained the possibility of admitting to certain charges that did directly imply he intentionally harmed the child.”

Smith, 33, of Shank Avenue, is charged with death of a child by a parent as a result of child abuse. His son, Madden, was found dead in the back seat of a car on Venable Avenue, in Kanawha City, on May 21.

Smith also was there, with his throat cut — police said he apparently attempted suicide.Smith told police that Madden died after he accidentally dropped him from about chest-high after picking him up with his bad right arm. The evaluation notes that Smith was diagnosed with arm muscle atrophy in March.

“I urge people not to form a judgment too quickly in this case,” Shawn Bayliss, Smith’s attorney, told the Gazette-Mail on Thursday. “We have no idea what the evidence is going to show, but we believe it’s going to show that this was an accidental trauma, not an intentional or nefarious act.”

Bayliss said the situation is hard on every member of Smith’s family.

The report states that Smith doesn’t have a mental disease or defect and that he understands the proceedings against him and can rationally consult with his attorney. It also says Smith didn’t lack substantial capacity to understand his actions at the time of the alleged offense.

Huntington psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Bobby Miller II performed the evaluation.

Bayliss referred Smith to Miller to “provide information regarding any psychiatric diagnosis, the examinee’s mental status, and forensic psychiatry opinions regarding the issue of competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and/or diminished capacity.”

The evaluation states that Smith denied that he was intoxicated at the time of the child’s death. He told police, according to a criminal complaint, that he had been watching Madden at his mother’s home when he picked the child up to change his diaper and accidentally dropped him. Smith said Madden began gasping for air, and then Smith couldn’t find a pulse. He said he attempted CPR but was unable to revive the boy, and that he shook the baby.

The complaint states that Madden had abrasions on his forehead when examined by paramedics, and appeared to have suffered multiple skull fractures.

Police said they found a hammer in the house with blood on it. The evaluation states that Smith “offered the possibility that more injuries would have occurred during his vigorous attempts of resuscitation while the child was on a hard surface.”

Smith said he is an unlikely person to harm a child because his father was murdered.

“He had purposed himself to be a super father,” the report states. “Between Mr. Smith and his wife they had 7 children including three children under the age of 1 from his current marriage.”

Smith said stress in his relationship with his wife included financial problems and the fact that one of their children was still in the hospital after being born with her intestines outside her body. He said they had decided to separate and live with their parents.

The evaluation states that Smith previously was treated at a Prestera Center in Charleston for depression and a three-year addiction to prescription pain medication. He said he attempted suicide once before the incident but that he’s not currently suicidal. He is under psychiatric care at the Western Regional Jail.

A March medical record said, “Depression with anxiety was noted to be a chronic problem” and that Smith “reported severe symptoms that occurred daily in his right arm” and had been complaining about weakness there since January 2013. In 2011, he was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, major depressive disorder and opioid abuse.

The report states that West Virginia Child Protective Services got an anonymous report in May that Smith was abusing drugs.

It also states that, in 2009, Smith and Megan Haynes, who is not Smith’s current wife, brought their first child, Maddox, to the hospital with what was “noted to be a suspicious injury.” 

“A protection plan was initiated and the parents were not allowed to be alone with the child,” the report states. The mothers of Smith and Haynes were placed on the parenting plan for Maddox, and Haynes’ mother “stated that she did not like Mr. Smith because he was controlling and could be violent.” However, “Despite the family dynamics and allegations, no maltreatment was substantiated.”

Smith’s mother tried to gain custody of Maddox by filing a domestic violence petition against Smith alleging that the child was in grave danger, but the DVP was dismissed.

Smith has a bail hearing set for 3:30 p.m. on July 9.