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Trial again delayed for Bothell man accused of killing wife

Alan Smith - Courtesy photo
Alan Smith
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The trial for a Bothell man accused of killing his estranged wife was moved for the third time.

Alan Smith’s defense attorneys earlier this week told a Snohomish County Superior Court judge that they need more time to complete their investigation.

The murder trial was scheduled to begin next month, but it now set for January. The public defenders cited the large volume of police and expert reports yet to be reviewed. So far, they’ve received nearly 9,000 pages of discovery. They said their investigator also needs to interview more than 20 witnesses.

Smith remains locked up at the Snohomish County Jail on $1 million bail. He is accused of killing his wife Susann Smith, 37, last year. Police found Susann on Feb. 12, 2013 face down, beaten and drown to death in the bathtub of her Bothell home while her two kids were away. She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, a fractured skull, and 19 separate blunt force strikes, according to court documents. She had to be identified by her dental records.

Alan Smith, 38, is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that Alan was moved to kill his wife through a stressful divorce and custody battle.

Susann's friends and family say they believe Alan killed her and are upset the trial date keeps getting pushed out.

"I definitely believe Susann's husband did that to her and I hope that's revealed soon," said Bettina Scott, Susann's friend. "When we met they were already having problems. But it was they way he was around her that frightened me; he was very arrogant and always put her down. Something was just off, I did not like him."

Scott recalled Susann telling her that Alan would fight ugly.

"He would get in Susann's face a lot; get close to her face and scream," Scott said. "He had a very patronizing tone of voice when he talked to her."

Scott said despite their disagreements, Susann fought to keep the family together.

"Last time I saw her she was trying to convince him to go to counseling because she didn't want her family to fall apart," Scott said. "She mentioned that he wasn't into counseling and said that if he wanted to separate she would stay here so the kids could see their dad. She never said anything about taking her kids back to Germany or moving."

Police contacted Alan after Susann was found dead on Feb. 12 at his work and wrote in court documents that “his reaction seemed rehearsed.” When told that a dead body was found at Susann’s residence, Alan did not ask any questions about the identity of the person and “did not offer any assistance to (police).”

He described his relationship with his estranged wife as “friendly” and told investigators that their separation had to do with “sex and the kids.” Investigators noted that his tone was angry. He also could not account for four hours on Feb. 10.

“Alan said he had no idea who would want to harm Susann,” investigators wrote. But when asked if he had harmed Susann or if there could be any of his DNA in her house, he did not immediately answer. He said that when he was at the house on Feb. 10 to pick up the children he was wrestling with his son and had his hair pulled.

Shortly after Susann's death, Alan moved back into their home and started dating a woman named Love Thai. Alan and Thai seemed to have a rocky relationship as police were called to Alan's home for various incidents during May 2013, including a report of Alan and Thai having sex in the front yard and for a domestic disturbance.

The couple was reportedly told by a minister at the church they were attending that they were no longer welcome at church services in part because of the nature of the allegations and also because of their inappropriate behavior at church and their ongoing media interviews.The minister later served as a witness to the trial, claiming that Alan had admitted to him that he'd killed Susann, saying his life was in “chaos,” and he was in over his head dealing with Thai’s mental health issues.

The minister told police that he believed that Alan was going to turn himself in and when that didn't happen, the minister contacted Bothell detectives. Police arrested Alan the next day.

A judge earlier this month ruled that jurors can hear testimony from the minister. The defense attempted to block the man’s testimony, saying that the conversation was protected because the man is a licensed minister. Prosecutors argued that the man wasn’t a minister at the church where Alan and his former girlfriend started attending services. The man volunteered as a small group leader but wasn’t a church employee. He told detectives that he wasn’t acting as a clergyman when he spoke to Smith last year.

Thai was found hanged April 8 in Seattle. The King County medical examiner ruled her death a suicide.

"While certainly tragic, I don't think [Thai's death] will affect the trial at all," said Craig Matheson, senior deputy prosecuting attorney at Snohomish County Prosectors Office.

Scott says Susann's friends want justice for her murder.

"I hope Alan gets put behind bars," Scott said. "I especially hope her kids can be with their family. That would make me the happiest; to know that they were safe and happy."

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