Plymouth road rage shooting: Jury starts deliberations in Jamal Smith case

The family of a metro area youth baseball coach shot and killed in an apparent case of road rage along highway 169 last summer is anxiously awaiting justice. The case against the alleged gunman, Jamal Smith is now in the hands of a Hennepin County jury.

The jury received the case over the lunch hour on Tuesday. The panel made up of seven women and five men deliberated for about four hours and went home for the evening without reaching a verdict. They had one question for Judge Nicole Engisch late in the day that was answered in open court. The jury is expected to return to the courthouse Wednesday morning to resume deliberations at 9 a.m.

Smith is charged with several counts including first and second-degree murder in the slaying of Jay Boughton. A conviction on the top count would send him to prison for life without the possibility of release.

Both sides delivered their closing arguments Tuesday morning inside the 18th-floor courtroom at the Hennepin County Government Center.

Prosecutor Dan Allard attempted to drive home the state’s theory that Smith, on a road trip from Chicago to visit his girlfriend in the metro, was both driver and triggerman inside the suspected SUV during the supposed road rage encounter.

Allard told the jury Smith was speeding wildly and swerved dangerously into Boughton’s southbound lane.

The 56 year old took evasive action, honked his horn, and allegedly flipped off Smith, Allard said.

Allard argued Smith then slowed down to square up with Boughton’s vehicle near Rockford Road, rolled down the front passenger window and "rather than shouting or yelling, he pulls out a gun, aims and kills an innocent man."

Meantime, in his hour-long closing argument, defense attorney Emmett Donnelly acknowledged that yes, absolutely Smith was driving. But Donnelly maintained, that there is zero hard evidence Smith pulled the trigger.

Smith himself, on the witness stand Monday, blamed his back seat passenger Brandon Smothers, who is not currently charged in the case and did not testify, for firing the .45-caliber weapon investigators never recovered.

Donnelly explained to the jury that the science supports their version of events, pointing out gunshot residue analysis from the involved Suburban actually shows the shot came from the back seat, not the front as the state contends. Evidence showed more residue was actually found up front on the passenger side. But the defense argues, that means the front passenger window was closed while the back window was open.

Donnelly also argued, the physics made it impossible for the driver to make the fatal shot through the window out the right side while striking Boughton in the head.

"I am asking you to look at the actual evidence, period," Donnelly told the jury. "Jamal Smith is not the shooter, the driver is not the shooter."

As for the jury’s question. They wanted to get clarity on the legal definition of the murder statutes Smith is facing. In Minnesota, someone can be found guilty of murder by either committing the act themselves or intentionally aiding and assisting someone else who did. That means, the jury can believe Smith’s contention that he did not fire the shot, but still convict him if he purposely helped someone else like Smothers.