Murder suspect may have blacked out before stabbing
The possibility that Charles James “Chuck” Smith blacked out from alcohol before stabbing his ex-girlfriend was posed to jurors before the defense rested its case in his murder trail Thursday.
Smith, 40, is accused of killing Julie Biswell in her Smartville-area trailer home Feb. 16. The trial began with jury selection Oct. 29, and closing arguments are expected Tuesday.
Defense lawyer Monica Lynch conceded in opening statements that Smith twice plunged a knife into Biswell’s chest. But she’s using a defense strategy called diminished actuality.
The strategy suggests that Smith’s intoxication led him to think he needed to protect himself so he couldn’t have used premeditation, a key requirement for a first-degree murder conviction. Lynch has also pointed to possible evidence that Biswell had a gun before the stabbing.
To support the theory, Lynch called Sacramento psychiatrist Albert Globus.
Speaking generally because he didn’t interview Smith, Globus said people can function while intoxicated but not remember what they did.
“The best way to describe it is that a curtain comes down and blocks out the memory,” he said.
He called such instances “amnestic episodes” and noted that people in such a condition tend to be aggressive because they can’t interpret their surroundings.
In cross examination, Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Kull rebutted Globus’ claims using the specifics of Smith’s case.
Would it be an amnestic episode if someone said, “If I’m going to prison, I might as well kill you?” Kull asked the doctor. (The statement has been attributed to Smith.)
“Probably not,” Globus replied.
Smith resided in a cabin on Hutto Road in Big Oak Valley. Biswell, 41, resided on the same property and worked as a live-in caregiver for the property owner, Martin Daugherty.
The jury of nine women and three men has already heard 911 calls placed by both Biswell and Daugherty minutes before she died. Jurors also learned that Smith and Biswell were drunk at the time.
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