Stabbing suspect arraigned
A Smartville-area man accused of fatally stabbing a woman last weekend was arraigned on one count of murder Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court.
Charles “Chuck” James Smith sat calmly in his chair, his shackled hands resting across his stomach. He sported bushy hair and a thick beard. Other than court officials, no one was at the brief hearing.
“Yes, ma’am,” Smith said, acknowledging to Judge M. Kathleen Butz that he needed a lawyer.
“No,” he said, telling the judge he didn’t have a job.
The judge appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Smith and set his plea hearing for Tuesday. His no-bail hold at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility will also be addressed at the hearing.
His criminal complaint might be amended by then, said Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson, whose office is reviewing whether Smith has any convictions under the state’s three-strikes law.
Wolfson said his office likely won’t pursue the death penalty.
“At this point, I don’t see any special circumstances present that would qualify Mr. Smith for the death penalty,” he said.
Generally, such circumstances would include multiple victims, prior murder convictions or murder for financial gain.
Smith, 39, is accused of stabbing an on-again, off-again 41-year-old girlfriend who lived on the same Hutto Road property in Big Oak Valley, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Another resident on the property told The Union that the couple, after a day of drinking, had argued loudly minutes before the victim called 911 at 11:06 p.m. The property’s owner, Martin Daugherty, a diabetic whom the victim and Smith cared for, also called 911.
Smith declined an interview request from The Union Tuesday at the jail. Deputy Public Defender David Humphreys, who represented Smith at the arraignment, declined comment after the hearing.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office is still trying to notify the victim’s Lake Wildwood parents of the killing. The couple is vacationing in another state and can’t be located, Undersheriff John Trauner said Tuesday afternoon.
Going back to the 1980s, Smith has faced several criminal cases in Nevada County, according to court records.
In 1982, he was convicted of grand theft of a firearm, a .38 revolver. A charge of receiving stolen property – a gold wedding band – was dismissed at sentencing, and Smith was successfully discharged after three years’ probation.
In 1995, the District Attorney’s Office filed a fugitive complaint that accused Smith of attempted battery while using a deadly weapon in Carson City, Nev., in 1993. The complaint was filed to facilitate Smith’s extradition to Nevada. Other records from that case weren’t available.
Smith also has two Nevada County public-drunkenness convictions.
In 1995, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Most recently, Smith pleaded no contest in September and was sentenced to 161/2 hours of community service. He served it at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley. In a written evaluation, his supervisor called him a “good worker.”
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