Judge plans to issue verdict Wednesday in man’s murder case

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge plans Wednesday to announce her verdict in the trial of a Bothell man accused of beating, stabbing and drowning his estranged wife.

Susann Smith’s friends were heard saying Friday that they were grateful they wouldn’t have to wait much longer to learn Alan Smith’s fate. They have sat through three weeks of testimony, including the grisly accounts of how their friend, a mother of two young children, was struck and stabbed nearly two dozen times and then dragged into a bathtub where she drowned.

Susann Smith’s sister attended part of the trial but had returned to Germany by Friday when lawyers gave closing arguments.

Alan Smith, 39, is charged with first-degree murder. On the eve of trial his defense team asked that Superior Court Judge Linda Krese be the sole trier of the evidence and decide the verdict.

Krese on Friday said she needed a few days to review the more than 600 pieces of evidence that were admitted during the trial. Smith faces decades in prison if he is convicted.

Prosecutors allege that the former Boeing engineer “went off the rails” because the divorce he was seeking wasn’t going the way he wanted. He had racked up nearly $15,000 in debt over the course of a year while the couple hashed out their split. He wanted more time with his young children and feared that his wife, 37, would move back to Germany with them.

The judge was told that Smith was obsessed with the divorce, bad-mouthing his wife and telling anyone who would listen that the court system was rigged to favor women. He called Susann Smith “pure evil” and a “psychopath” and likened her to his mother, whom he despised, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said.

Prosecutors alleged that Smith’s anger over the divorce gained momentum in January 2013 after a judge declined to reconsider his motion to appoint a guardian ad-litem to investigate his allegations that Susann Smith was an unfit mother. The judge concluded his claims were unfounded.

Susann Smith’s body was discovered Feb. 12, 2013, face down in the bathtub in her Bothell home. The killer wore gloves, foot coverings and removed the murder weapons from the house, prosecutors said. The crime scene shows the attack was “overkill” and a “targeted killing.”

Bothell detectives spoke with Alan Smith the day his wife was found. They leaned on him and he denied that he had anything to do with the slaying. He agreed to let them search his apartment and vehicle. They seized computer and financial records. They used the global positioning system in his Mercedes to track his whereabouts.

Prosecutors allege that Smith rode a bicycle to his wife’s house and later threw away damning evidence, including the mallet and knife he used to kill her. They think those items ended up in a dumpster on Smith’s way to work.

Smith’s DNA was discovered on a washcloth under his wife’s body.

An expert witness, a sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, testified that Bloody footprints at the scene were consistent with Smith’s.

Smith’s efforts to avoid arrest came to an end four months later when he allegedly confessed to a man he’d met just once before. Wendell Morris testified earlier this week that Smith admitted he killed his wife after he came to Morris for help with his then-girlfriend, a mentally ill woman who later committed suicide.

“The defendant had the motive. He had the means. He had the opportunity,” Matheson said.

There is no doubt who killed Susann Smith and why, the deputy prosecutor told Krese.

Alan Smith’s defense attorney, Caroline Mann, on Friday attacked conclusions drawn by police and prosecutors, blaming them for ignoring evidence that didn’t fit with their theory that her client was the killer.

She pointed to the medical examiner’s testimony, who said it was possible that Susann Smith was killed up to a day later than what prosecutors suggest.

Mann proposed alternate possibilities for how Susann Smith was killed, saying she might have interrupted a burglary. Mann suggested that the killing was the result of a consensual encounter with an unknown boyfriend that went wrong.

DNA belonging to an unknown female was found on the slain woman’s wrist. Her client’s DNA was on the washcloth because he used it to clean up his son the weekend before his wife was found.

“If you look at the physical evidence, Alan Smith didn’t murder the mother of his two children,” Mann said.

It doesn’t make sense that Alan Smith would risk leaving his children home alone so he could kill his wife. How could he be sure they wouldn’t wake up, start screaming and wake up the neighbors? Mann asked. It also doesn’t make sense that he would confess to a man he barely knew, simply because the man asked him whether he was responsible for the slaying.

The man from the church, Wendell Morris, heard what he wanted to hear because he was excited to set Smith on the right path and bring a sinner to Christ, Mann said. She encouraged Krese to be critical of Morris’ testimony and skeptical of the alleged confession.

Deputy prosecutor Katie Wetmore delivered the final arguments. She said the defense’s theories of what happened to Susann Smith are not supported by the evidence.

“The only person who benefits from Susann Smith’s death was Alan Smith,” Wetmore said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley.

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