Erica Jones

Stepdaughter Pleads Guilty in Death of Stepmom Blamed on Panhandler

A Baltimore woman has admitted to blaming her stepmother's murder on a panhandler and helping her father try to escape to Mexico.

News outlets report 28-year-old Valeria Smith pleaded guilty Thursday to acting as an accessory after the fact in the slaying of 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith. Valeria Smith and her father, Keith Smith, had claimed Jacquelyn Smith was fatally stabbed in December by a man after handing $10 to a female panhandler who appeared to be holding a baby.

Police later determined the charity-gone-wrong story was a lie, and the surviving Smiths had gone on the run. Valeria Smith was initially charged with first-degree murder along with her father. Both were arrested in March in Texas during what police portrayed as a desperate dash to Mexico.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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