Schenectady County

UPDATE: Suspect in Crane Street murder case was prospective juror; judge says witness was threatened

Derrick C. Smith might very well have been seated on the jury hearing the case involving the killing

Derrick C. Smith might very well have been seated on the jury hearing the case involving the killing of a man outside a Crane Street bar last year if it weren’t for the fact that Smith is a suspect in the killing himself.

Jury selection in Smith’s murder trial began last week and concluded Monday. The Schenectady County Court jury will decide whether Smith was the one who essentially executed Michael L. DeVeaux Jr. outside the El Dorado Bar in June 2010.

That jury was selected over at least two days from a pool of prospective jurors called in at random. Among those citizens notified to come in was Smith, his attorney Mark Gaylord confirmed Tuesday.

The topic was discussed briefly during a break in a morning hearing in the murder case, when prosecutors accused Smith of deliberately passing a threat to an important witness in the case.

That alleged threat, prosecutors contended at the hearing, resulted in the witness fearing for her life and fleeing so prosecutors couldn’t make her testify.

During a break in the hearing, Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino joked that Smith assured the court that he would be impartial. Smith, at the defense table, appeared to agree with that assessment.

Back on the record, and at the conclusion of the morning’s hearing, Giardino issued a ruling that essentially found Smith was far from any semblance of impartial, even as defendants go.

The judge found that Smith helped engineer the threat to the witness, causing her to flee in fear of her life.

Because she couldn’t be found to testify because of Smith’s actions, the judge ruled, prosecutors could have the witness’ testimony to the grand jury read into the record to the jury.

Because the testimony will come from the grand jury transcript, the defense will have no opportunity at cross-examination.

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