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Keith Smith found guilty of wife's murder after blaming peddling panhandler

A Maryland man suspected of killing his wife three years ago and blaming her murder on a panhandler was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder.

Jurors found Keith Tyrone Smith guilty of first-degree murder and deadly weapon with intent to injure in the 2018 stabbing death of his wife, Jacquelyn Smith, following a week-long trial.

Smith, 55, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison plus three years at sentencing on Feb. 28.

Speaking to reporters Thursday outside the Mitchell Courthouse, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she was proud of the jury’s verdict and the work of law enforcement.

Mosby had strong words for Smith, calling his plot to murder his wife and then blame the crime on a panhandler a “cowardly act” that damaged Baltimore’s reputation.

Jacquelyn Smith, an engineer for Aberdeen Proving Ground, was fatally stabbed Dec. 1, 2018. Her husband called 911 that night, saying his wife had been stabbed by a panhandler in East Baltimore.

Keith Smith and his daughter fled town after his wife’s murder. They were arrested three months later near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Valeria Smith pleaded guilty in September 2019 to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder for a lesser sentence.

She took the stand Tuesday to testify against her father, recalling in vivid detail the events that unfolded the night of her stepmother’s murder. She said they were out celebrating a belated birthday when her father took a detour to Druid Hill Park. At some point, she said, he slowed down and stabbed his wife.

She testified that her father was calm afterward, but his demeanor changed when he called 911. She told the court that once her father discarded the murder weapon, a knife, in the woods, he told her to lie to police and say a panhandler stabbed his wife.

A day or two after the murder, she said, her father went to his wife’s workplace to get paperwork for her life insurance policy. He was the beneficiary.

Valeria Smith is due in court Dec. 13 for a sentencing hearing.

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