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Stabbing suspect claimed self-defense

During his jail booking, Charles “Chuck” James Smith claimed self-defense was behind his allegedly killing an estranged girlfriend, according to documents filed Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Victim Julie Biswell “had a knife to my throat. I took it from her and shoved it through her chest,” the murder defendant said before emitting laughter, according to search warrant documents.



But the papers, filed by the Sheriff’s Office, also give a contradictory account from a witness who reported seeing Smith and Biswell in a struggle before she died of multiple stab wounds.




“Die … If I’m going back to prison, I might as well kill ya,” he allegedly told Biswell during the alleged attack, according to the witness, Martin Daugherty.

Smith, 39, is accused of murdering the 41-year-old Biswell on Feb. 16 at 12305 Hutto Road in Big Oak Valley, near Yuba County. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday and faces a felony conference March 28.

Smith lived in a one-room cabin on property owned by Daugherty, a 47-year-old diabetes patient. Biswell shared a nearby mobile home with Daugherty, for whom she helped care.

Minutes before she died, a frantic Biswell ran into the mobile home yelling, “He’s going to kill me,” Daugherty said, according to the search warrant petition.

At 11:06 p.m., she called 911 and reported being attacked by a man with a knife or machete. During the call, Daugherty unloaded and stored his guns, the petition says.

Then Smith, according to Daugherty, entered the mobile home and struck Biswell with a leather knife sheath. Their struggle moved from the living room to the front door, where Biswell fell to the floor with “a sucking chest wound” and Smith ran outside, according to the petition.

At 11:26 p.m., Daugherty called 911 and said Biswell wasn’t breathing.

Deputies arrived at 11:27 p.m., and their resuscitation efforts failed.

At 2 a.m. the next day, Feb. 17, Smith was arrested in his cabin, where he was lying in bed with three or four knives, the petition says.

An inventory of other items in the cabin included more knives of various sizes, two daggers, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .44 revolver.

Investigators also recorded red stains and fingerprints from the cabin and mobile home, the inventory says.

Smith is being held without bail at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.

A funeral for Biswell, a mother of three whose parents reside in Lake Wildwood, was Wednesday.


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