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Keith Smith found guilty of wife's murder after peddling panhandler hoax

Keith and Jacquelyn Smith
Posted at 10:47 AM, Dec 09, 2021

BALTIMORE — On day two of deliberations, a jury convicted an Aberdeen man of murdering his wife three years ago, and lying about how it happened.

"We fought for justice on behalf of Jacquelyn Smith and we achieved it," said City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Keith Smith initially told police he, his daughter and wife, Jacquelyn, were heading home from celebrating a birthday in Baltimore, when a panhandler robbed and stabbed her to death.

"My wife just felt moved to give her something" Keith Smith told WMAR-2 News back in December 2018. "So at the stop sign, she waved her over to come on over to the car and out of nowhere some guy came over while walking with her. I hit my window and Jacquelyn went to hand the money out and the guy leaned over and said can I thank your wife? I said you can thank my wife and, within that split second, this guy commits to stabbing my wife."

In the days following Jacquelyn's murder, Smith pledged to advocate for new laws banning panhandling at every Baltimore intersection.

At the same time, police were already busy unraveling his story.

RELATED: Husband and stepdaughter charged in murder of Good Samaritan Jacquelyn Smith

Detectives were never able to find any crime scene or evidence of the attack.

CCTV footage also didn't pick up Smith's car along the route he claimed to have taken the night of the murder. Cell phone location data told a different story as well.

Mosby called it a cowardly act towards a loving, caring woman.

"He was able to utilize this elaborate scheme and story to prey up on her and who she was and her character," said Mosby.

Smith's adult daughter, Valeria, was with the couple during that fatal night, and later agreed to testify against her father in exchange for lesser charges against her.

She has since pleaded guilty to being an accessory in the cover-up by tossing Jacquelyn’s pocketbook and disposing of the murder weapon.

MORE: Valeria Smith pleads guilty to accessory to murder of stepmother Jacquelyn Smith

Keith and Valeria were eventually arrested while trying to flee the country near the Texas-Mexico boarder.

No specific motive was ever revealed, but police learned Jacquelyn had been looking into divorcing Keith before her death.

"This was an egregious act, a selfish act, where he not only manipulated the hearts and the minds of a country but he manipulated the heart and the mind of his daughter who was addicted to drugs," said Mosby.

Sentencing has been scheduled for February 28. He faces a life sentence plus 3 years and Mosby said they plan to ask for the maximum. Smith still has 10-days to request a new trial.