In a chilling example of how criminals can continue to commit crime from jail, a man awaiting sentencing for one killing tried to arrange more violence to silence witnesses in another case.
Derrick C. Smith admitted to the act in Schenectady County Court on Tuesday, saying that he had conspired with another inmate to send a list of witnesses to someone outside the jail. The goal was to stop those witnesses from testifying in the other inmate’s case, unrelated to Smith’s, according to court documents.
Visiting Judge Andrew G. Ceresia sentenced Smith to five to 10 years in prison for the crime. The sentence will run after his 20-year sentence for manslaughter, keeping him in prison for 25 to 30 years.
The sentence means Smith will have spent half his life in prison before he is eligible for release. He is 27 years old and has already spent 2.5 years in prison for drug possession.
He was sentenced as a repeat felony offender. The witness intimidation case was his third felony arrest.
Smith was also accused of intimidating a witness in his own case, but was not charged. Prosecutors said he sent a note to his girlfriend, who passed it to a witness who could directly identify Smith as the shooter in a murder case.
Smith eventually pleaded guilty anyway to manslaughter in the death of Michael DeVeaux Jr.
He admitted he fired the shot that killed DeVeaux outside the El Dorado bar in 2010. Another man, who also shot DeVeaux, also pleased guilty to manslaughter.
While Smith was awaiting sentencing and housed at the county jail, prosecutors said he met a former friend, Wade McCommons.
Both men are allegedly members of the Bloods gang in Schenectady. McCommons had been in federal prison for more than a year, but was brought back to face murder charges. He was accused of killing Laurel Teer during a botched robbery at the Eastern Avenue Deli & Grocery in 2009.
Prosecutors said McCommons asked Smith to arrange for someone to kill two witnesses who were willing to testify against him.
McCommons gave Smith pages from his confidential witness list, prosecutors said. Smith managed to mail at least some of the court papers to someone outside the jail, but the plan to kill the witnesses did not succeed, prosecutors said.
As Smith tried to arrange for the killings, jurors convicted McCommons of murder.