By Bobby Bordelon
The murder trial of Edward Smith-Allen is “hopefully” moving forward in April, noted Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent during a Tuesday, February 23, motions hearing denying Smith-Allen bond.
Smith-Allen was indicted by a grand jury in October 2019 for the murder of Alaisia M. Smith in Dorie Miller Park in Lewisburg.
Previously, Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent pushed the trial back from the original December 2020 date due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the county. The number of people required to come to the courthouse during jury selection seemed too high while the county was still in the red category of the Harvard COVID map.
“This is a case I’m going to prioritize for purposes of the trial docket,” said Dent. “I do believe that we are going to be, hopefully, unless something would drastically change regarding the pandemic, … in a posture where we could go forward with a trial in April. That may be with some restrictions as far as social distancing, masks, etc, which we can talk about closer to that date, but this is a case that … needs to remain on the trial docket.”
Pre-trial hearings set to reconfirm jury instructions and make preparations for a COVID-19 jury selection before the new April trial.
Before the Tuesday hearing, defense attorney Kristopher Faerber filed a second motion for consideration of bond and home incarceration for Smith-Allen. The first motion for bond was denied in June 2020, where Faerber asked he be placed on a $10,000 bond, released to the custody of his father, and placed in the Fayette County Home Incarceration program, citing his lack of previous criminal history.
“We filed the motion to reconsider primarily based on the fact that Mr. Smith-Allen has multiple places in Greenbrier County where he can now serve home confinement,” said Faerber. “Over the past year we did not have that possibility for the court.”
In presenting the motion in Tuesday’s hearing, Faeber also noted his circumstances had changed recently.
“Mr. Smith-Allen’s father just passed away as well and we’re hoping the court will consider home confinement in Greenbrier County,” Faerber said.
Despite this, Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via pushed back.
“The state opposes the motion,” said Via. “While it may be true that a condition of now having a suitable place for home confinement maybe true, the fact remains that this case was never suitable for home confinement ever. …. This is indicted as a murder, we are now right at [two months until] trial. There is no crime in our statutes more serious.”
He pointed to Smith-Allen as a public safety threat.
“It is alleged and the state expects to show that it was a murder committed with a firearm, which demonstrates the extraordinary community safety issue. … The allegation here is [that he] shot and killed a teenage girl with a firearm.”
Ultimately, Dent sided with the prosecution.
“I am going to deny bond in this case,” Dent said. “I’ll note that we are very close to the trial date, it will remain on the docket.”