Accused killer seeks evidence against him

James Smith, left, listens during his first hearing Monday, requested by his lawyer, Stephen Doerr. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

The attorney representing accused killer James Smith complained Monday to a district court judge that he’s not received evidence in the case, as required by law.

Judge Joe Parker ordered prosecutors hand over the requested information by Friday.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said he filed notice with the court on Jan. 19 that he would produce the evidence by Friday and intends to do so.

Smith, a Clovis dentist, is accused of killing Laura McNaughton, a 30-year-old mother of two. McNaughton’s body was found Dec. 10 in a ditch north of Clovis. Officials said she was strangled to death.

Smith’s attorney, Stephen Doerr, said he was entitled to evidence in the prosecutors’ possession 30 days after Smith’s arraignment, which was waived on Dec. 30.

Doerr said he could not comply with the legal rule that he give any claim of insanity, incompetence or lack of capacity because the district attorney’s office had not produced records in evidence.

Chandler said he’s not opposed to waiving time requirements imposed on Doerr because of the delay in processing evidence.

Chandler said the case is complex; officials have conducted more than 100 interviews, which were taped. Agencies typically make audio and video tapes available to the defense after they’ve been transcribed, Chandler said.

Doerr said he’s entitled to original copies of the evidence, and said he doesn’t require transcripts immediately.

Court records show DNA consistent with McNaughton’s was found in blood inside Smith’s truck.

Toxicology tests conducted on McNaughton’s fluids gathered at autopsy haven’t been returned to the DA’s office, Chandler told the court.

Chandler has said he may pursue the death penalty.

Smith has denied killing McNaughton in a note to his wife, court records show. But he also told police she died quickly, after a very physical embrace at his home the day before her body was found, records show.

Also Monday, Parker scheduled Smith’s pre-trial hearing for Aug. 21.