Suspect did five years for ’91 stabbing
A person gets stabbed, 911 is called, and the suspect runs out the door.
Those are the allegations against Charles “Chuck” James Smith, the Smartville-area man charged with murder for last weekend’s stabbing of his estranged girlfriend, 41-year-old Julie Biswell.
But the circumstances resemble another case from 11 years ago that ultimately landed Smith a five-year prison term in Nevada.
The 39-year-old Smith, scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court, was sentenced in 1991 in Carson City for slicing a roommate in the throat while swinging a double-edged knife and for trying to stab him in the chest.
Smith was charged with attempted murder with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon for his Oct. 26, 1991, attack on roommate Steven Harold Rhodes, according to Carson City Sheriff’s Department and Carson City District Court records.
In a handwritten account, Rhodes said Smith “grabbed a knife in a sheath. It was on the kitchen table. He started swinging it at me.”
Rhodes suffered a superficial wound to the throat and ran to another apartment, where Smith sliced him in the throat again, he said. Rhodes testified in a preliminary hearing that Smith then tried to stab him in the chest, before Rhodes grabbed the knife blade, suffering cuts to his fingers.
Smith later pleaded no contest to attempted battery and the attempted-murder charge was dropped.
A five-year prison term was suspended at sentencing. But the sentence was imposed in 1995 after Smith was convicted of domestic assault and violating probation by failing to enroll in counseling, the records say.
A 1993 probation report called Smith “a 30-year-old male who shows no responsibility for his behavior. The subject prefers to live an irresponsible lifestyle and live off others’ kindness.”
It said Smith lived with his parents in Carson City and maintained part-time jobs until they moved to Oregon in 1992. “Since their departure, he has lived a nomadic existence. He has not held a residence for more than two months, nor has he been consistent in attempting to obtain employment,” the report said.
Another report said Smith violated terms of his probation regarding employment, payment of $612 for Rhodes’ medical costs, attendance in alcohol and anger-management classes, and drug counseling.
Smith’s connection to the Nevada County area is unclear, but court records show convictions here from the early 1980s.
It’s unclear how Smith came to live on the same Hutto Road property in Big Oak Valley as Biswell, a mother of three, including two adult children. A neighbor said they had known each other several months and cared for the property owner, 47-year-old diabetic Martin Daugherty.
The Sheriff’s Office claims Smith stabbed Biswell in the chest and abdomen Saturday night and fled as she called 911 at 11:06 p.m. The neighbor reported hearing the two argue shortly beforehand.
Smith was later arrested in his nearby cabin, where several knives were seized, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Biswell’s parents were notified of the killing Wednesday while on vacation in another state.
– Nevada Appeal reporter F.T. Norton contributed
to this story
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User