Trial delayed for Bothell man accused of killing wife

EVERETT — The trial for a Bothell man accused of killing his estranged wife won’t happen until next year.

Alan Smith’s defense attorneys earlier this week told a Snohomish County Superior Court judge that they need more time to complete their investigation. The murder trial was scheduled to begin next month.

The public defenders cited the large volume of police and expert reports yet to be reviewed. So far, they’ve received nearly 9,000 pages of discovery. They said their investigator also needs to interview more than 20 witnesses.

Smith now is scheduled to go on trial in January. He remains locked up at the Snohomish County Jail.

Prosecutors allege that Smith, fueled by an acrimonious divorce and custody battle, beat, stabbed and drowned his wife. Police found Susann Smith, 37, face down in a bathtub inside her Bothell home last year. She had nearly two dozen injuries to her face and head.

Alan Smith, 38, is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that he meticulously planned the attack in an effort to hide his involvement.

Meanwhile, a judge earlier this month ruled that jurors can hear testimony from a man who reported to detectives that Smith confessed to killing his wife.

The defense attempted to block the man’s testimony, saying that the conversation was protected because the man is a licensed minister.

Prosecutors argued that the man wasn’t a minister at the church where Smith and his former girlfriend started attending services. The man volunteered as a small group leader but wasn’t a church employee. He told detectives that he wasn’t acting as a clergyman when he spoke to Smith last year.

The man reportedly met Smith and his then-girlfriend, Love Thai, at a potluck meal organized by other church members. He was aware through news stories that Smith was a suspect in his wife’s murder.

Smith had moved back into the Bothell house with Thai about a month after the killing. Police were called to the house multiple times, including once when Thai reportedly was sun-bathing naked outside, and another time when the pair were found having sex in the front yard.

Smith and Thai were told in June 2013 that they were no longer welcome at church services in part because of the nature of the allegations and also because of their inappropriate behavior at church and their ongoing media interviews.

Smith and his girlfriend later that day called the witness and his wife. They met up and Smith reportedly confessed to killing his wife, saying his life was in “chaos,” and he was in over his head dealing with Thai’s mental health issues.

The man told police that he believed that Smith was going to turn himself in. When that didn’t happen, the man contacted Bothell detectives. Police arrested Smith the next day.

Thai was found hanged last month. The King County medical examiner ruled her death a suicide.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com

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