Erica Jones

No Murder Charge for Suspect in Death Blamed on Panhandler

The attorney for a woman accused in a killing that was initially blamed on a panhandler says prosecutors are dropping murder charges against her.

Attorney Brandon Mead says 28-year-old Valeria Smith has been indicted in Baltimore Circuit Court on one charge of accessory after the crime, the Baltimore Sun reported. 

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office declined to discuss the charges. 

Smith and her father, 53-year-old Keith Smith, were charged in March in the Dec. 1 killing of her stepmother, 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith, a mechanical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground. 

The killing attracted national attention after the two suspects claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed after she gave a panhandler $10 while the family was driving through East Baltimore.

Jacquelyn Smith's death attracted national attention and prompted many to regard panhandlers warily. Even Oprah Winfrey, whose early career included several years covering Baltimore news, commented that she would "think twice" about giving to panhandlers after reading about Jacquelyn's death.

But at a news conference in March, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the panhandler story was not true

Keith and Valeria Smith were arrested in Harlingen, Texas, near the Mexico border. Harrison said the two had been preparing to leave the country.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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