Murder suspect enters not-guilty plea
A Smartville-area man accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court. He also denied newly filed allegations that pose two strikes under the three-strikes law.
With the new allegations, Charles “Chuck” James Smith, 39, faces 86 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson said.
Freshly shaven with a new haircut, Smith briefly chatted with Chief Public Defender Thomas Anderson, who entered the plea on Smith’s behalf.
“I think he’s still kind of in a daze,” Anderson said.
Anderson also withdrew an earlier motion to relax Smith’s bail, and the defendant remains held without bail at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility. Judge John Darlington set a felony conference for March 28.
Smith was arraigned last week on one count of murder for the Feb. 16 stabbing of 41-year-old Julie Biswell at her Hutto Road mobile home. Smith lived in an adjacent one-room cabin, and witnesses said they had an on-again, off-again relationship.
A neighbor heard the couple arguing minutes before Biswell called 911. The Sheriff’s Office says she was stabbed in the chest and abdomen.
Both lived on property owned by 47-year-old Martin Daugherty, a diabetic, and Biswell was his caretaker.
Smith’s amended complaint alleges that two of his convictions pose strikes. He was convicted of attempted battery with a deadly weapon, a knife, in Carson City in 1992, and later received a five-year prison sentence for violating probation.
Wolfson said out-of-state convictions can apply under California’s three-strikes law.
In 1982, Smith was convicted of grand theft of a firearm in Nevada County.
No one other than court officials attended Tuesday’s hearing, but a neighbor, Victoria Bates, showed up later to learn what happened.
“I just want to make sure he goes to jail forever,” she said.
Bates, who lives on Chantarelle Lane, knows Smith and Daugherty, and she vaguely knew Biswell.
“And I was the one who had to go clean up the scene – all the blood and the horror,” she said.
Bates said Smith helped build a shed on her property a year and a half ago.
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