Judge to decide verdict in Bothell murder trial

EVERETT — A Bothell man accused of fatally beating, stabbing and drowning his estranged wife in 2013 has decided to let a judge decide his fate.

Jury selection for Alan Smith’s first-degree murder trial had been scheduled to begin this week. On Monday morning, his lawyer told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese that Smith instead wants a bench trial.

That means only the judge will weigh the evidence and reach a verdict in the case.

Deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said he still plans to present the same case, and he expects the trial will last roughly three weeks. Witnesses are scheduled to begin testifying Thursday.

Smith, 39, is accused of attacking his estranged wife, Susann Smith, 37, inside her Bothell house in February 2013.

Her body was found in the bathtub.

Prosecutors allege a washcloth found under Susann Smith’s body contained the defendant’s DNA. Bloody footprints also reportedly were matched to his feet.

The Smiths were getting divorced and battling for custody of their two young children.

Although detectives found evidence they contend showed Smith carefully planned the killing, he reportedly buckled under the strain of the investigation. He was arrested after he allegedly told an acquaintance he’d met at church that he killed his wife.

At the time, Smith was the focus of intense scrutiny, much of it his own doing.

About a month after the killing, the defendant and his then-girlfriend, Love Thai, moved into the house where his estranged wife died. Neighbors complained to police that Smith and Thai engaged in sex on the lawn.

The pair gave television interviews and Thai posted regular updates about the case on Facebook. She also turned to social media to announce that she was pregnant with Alan Smith’s child.

Thai later gave birth and put the child up for adoption. She hanged herself in April.

Krese has been ruling on pre-trial motions in the case for months and is aware of the unusual history. For example, in December, she agreed with Smith’s attorneys that jurors should not be told that some of Smith’s coworkers at Boeing considered him strange and had nicknamed him “Creepy Alan.”

Smith’s lawyer, Caroline Mann, did not immediately respond to questions about Smith’s reasons for deciding to seek a bench trial instead of taking the case before a jury.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews

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