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Murder suspect Keith Smith stripped of authority over wife's estate after killing he blamed on Baltimore panhandler

A Harford County judge on Monday stripped murder suspect Keith Smith’s authority over his dead wife’s estate.

The decision empowers the grown sons of Jacquelyn Smith and their attorneys to subpoena her bank records, any life insurance policies and other financial documents. They say they continue to investigate whether their stepfather profited by allegedly stabbing their mother to death last December.

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Jacquelyn’s brother has said Smith cleared their home of appliances before he headed south toward the Mexican border.

“We look forward to going to work to find out what’s really going on in this estate,” said Duncan Keir, attorney for Smith’s oldest son, “and hopefully providing some closure to the family.”

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In shackles and a yellow jumpsuit, Smith was led into Harford County Circuit Court on Monday for the hearing. Smith represented himself without an attorney.

Jacquelyn’s sons had petitioned the court to remove him from her estate. Keith Smith did not argue to retain his authority.

“Were you going to file any kind of response?” Harford Circuit Judge Paul Ishak asked him.

“I’m not in disagreement,” Smith said.

The hearing was over in minutes. The judge named Smith’s oldest son, Kendall Hood, of New York, the estate’s representative. Then Smith was escorted back to jail where he awaits trial on the charge of murder.

Police allege the 52-year-old Aberdeen man and his grown daughter, Valeria Smith, 28, killed Jacquelyn Smith, who had been an electrical engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground. She was stabbed five times in her chest.

Keith and Valeria Smith had blamed the killing on a panhandling woman and knife-wielding man. Police, however, say their story was a ruse. The pair was arrested in March at a South Texas truck stop 20 minutes from the Mexican border.

The rapid conclusion to a hushed but hurried police manhunt shocked the state and nation even more than the tragic tale Keith and Valeria Smith tearfully told in December about how Keith’s wife, Jacquelyn, had been stabbed to death through a car window after giving money to a panhandler

Both are being held without bail. Their trials have not yet been scheduled in Baltimore Circuit Court.

They had claimed the killing happened during an act of kindness: that Jacquelyn had handed $10 to a panhandler just before she was attacked in East Baltimore. The story drew widespread attention and stoked fears of the homeless in the city.

In charging documents, detectives wrote that they uncovered inconsistencies in the story.

Detectives recovered footage from 27 surveillance cameras and found no sign of their car that night in the desolate stretch of East Baltimore where they claimed the stabbing happened. They also checked cellphone signals that placed the Smiths in Druid Hill Park for 15 unexplained minutes, detectives wrote in charging documents.

Police wrote that Keith Smith’s close friend, Donnell Morgan, told detectives that Smith had asked his own brother for help in a plot to murder his wife.

They also wrote of Smith’s attempts to identify foreign countries where he could travel without a passport as the investigation heated up.

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