A Baltimore man accused of fatally stabbing his wife and later lying that she was killed by panhandlers after she gave them money was on Monday sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 incident.
Besides receiving a life sentence for the murder of his wife Jacquelyn Smith, the culprit Keith Smith also received an additional three-year sentence for a deadly weapon with intent to injure, CBS Baltimore reported.
Responding to the sentencing, Jacquelyn Smith’s sister, Yzonne Saab, said she was content with the punishment, adding that the verdict was a result of the “tremendous” volume of evidence that was brought against the accused.
“This didn’t bring her back but we were elated and feel that definitely justice was served,” Saab said. “And as I said on the record, the judge was very poignant and to the point. You could tell that she really reviewed this case thoroughly and made a decision that made us very happy.”
Keith Smith, 55, was accused of fatally stabbing his wife Jacquelyn on December 1, 2018. In the wake of the fatal incident, Keith Smith called 911 and claimed his wife had been stabbed by a panhandler. He also told investigators that the incident unfolded after his wife gave $10 to a female panhandler after he stopped his car at the 1000 block of Valley Street. He said Jacquelyn was in the passenger seat.
“Mr. Smith claimed, at that same moment, a male also walked over to the passenger side of the vehicle where his wife sat and the man asked Mr. Smith if he could thank his wife for giving the woman money,” officials said. “Mr. Smith said he replied ‘Yes.’ He then claimed the man began to stab his wife multiple times, grabbed her necklace and wallet from her lap, and then fled on foot with the female panhandler.”
Jacquelyn’s death and the circumstances surrounding it garnered national attention and sparked a conversation with regard to the dangers of interacting with panhandlers. Even media mogul Oprah Winfrey said she’ll “think twice” about extending a helping hand to panhandlers after she got to know about Jacquelyn’s death, ABC15 Arizona reported.
Keith Smith and his daughter Valeria were ultimately arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border while they were trying to escape. That was three months after they fled, CBS Baltimore reported. After their arrest, officials said Valeria “admitted that the panhandler story was a hoax by Keith Smith and that she witnessed when he killed Jacquelyn in Druid Hill Park.”
Valeria, who was also implicated in the crime, testified against her father during the trial. Following her death, Valeria said that her father went to his wife’s place of employment to obtain documents for her life insurance policy. The accused man was named as the beneficiary.
“Keith Smith will now justly serve a life sentence in prison for violently stabbing his wife to death and then creating an elaborate cover-up plan to cowardly blame panhandlers for his horrific attack,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said. “Today, the public can rest assured that justice was served in a case that manipulated the hearts and minds of our country.”