Trial starts for man accused in Highland homicide
Lake Superior Court jurors began hearing testimony in the murder trial of a Highland man charged with killing his live-in girlfriend.
Douglas Anthony Smith, 27, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge filed in the Jan. 14, 2012, death of Jacqueline Williams, 28.
Highland police found Williams dead of a gunshot wound to her left eye after co-workers became concerned that she failed to show up for work at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 16, 2012 at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.
In her opening statement, deputy prosecutor Sabrina Haney said evidence would show that Williams and Smith both were heavy drinkers. Williams had been out having drinks with a couple girlfriends at a Highland bar. They left and had some drinks at a bar in Griffith before returning to Growlers in Highland, where Smith appeared to become upset with Williams after a brief conversation with a couple of women in the bar.
Defense attorney William Padula urged jurors to focus on what Smith intended that evening. He described the couple’s relationship as a tumultuous one that involved arguments when they were drinking.
When Smith and Williams went home around 2 a.m. Jan. 14, 2012, they argued again, Padula said in his opening statement.
“Yes, there was a homicide but not a murder,” Padula said, calling the shooting accidental.
Haney told jurors in her opening statement that Smith admitted to his mother that he’d killed Williams and took off for Florida. The gun used to kill Williams was not found, but police located an empty box for a .357-Magnum revolver and found six bullets were missing from an ammunition box from the couple’s duplex at 2611 40th Place.
Smith’s mother arrived at the duplex as police were conducting a welfare check on Williams. She told police her son had called to check on Williams because he couldn’t reach her by phone, Highland police Patrolman Richard Hoffman said.
Hoffman said he noticed blood spatter on the dining room floor, which is below Williams’ bedroom. She was on her back on the floor, wearing a robe and naked from the waist down.