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Trial begins for Utahn accused of killing wife after she told him she was leaving

Testimony began Tuesday in the St. George murder trial of Steven Timothy Smith, who is charged with killing his wife after she told him she was leaving him.

Testimony began Tuesday in the St. George murder trial of Steven Timothy Smith, who is charged with killing his wife after she told him she was leaving him. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

ST. GEORGE — Testimony began Tuesday in the jury trial for a man accused of shooting and killing his wife hours after she told him she planned to leave the marriage while three of their four children, all teenagers and young adults, were at home.

Steven Timothy Smith, 59, of Ivins, is charged with murder, a first-degree felony.

In the opening arguments for the trial, prosecutor Jerry Jaeger said after Smith learned that his wife, Shawntell Smith, planned to leave on May 22, Smith went and found his gun, left to withdraw $15,000 from the bank and came back to find his wife and others packing up the house. Jaeger said Smith then told neighbors to leave. One of Smith's sons, Tyler, testified that his father asked him if he was "OK with this," to which he responded that he was.

Smith then went inside and fired all of the seven rounds he had put into the gun at his wife's back while she was in the kitchen, Jaeger said, adding that Smith told officers at the scene that he did not deny shooting his wife.

"This is a simple straightforward case: The defendant shot his wife," Jaeger said.

However, the prosecutor said that the trial is still necessary because Smith has a constitutional right to have the case against him proven without any reasonable doubts.

Two of Shawntell Smith's children testified Tuesday to hearing shots and rushing to help their mother. One son explained that he ran after his father who had left the room, pinned him down, and punched him a few times before going to help his sister care for their mother.

Smith's attorney, Nathan Reeve, in his opening arguments talked about the need to prove that a crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. He claimed that Smith at the time was not thinking straight, and that it seemed to Smith when he got home that he was the only person who was not aware of his wife's intent to leave.

"You need to put yourselves in his shoes at that moment. His world collapsed," Reeve said.

The trial is scheduled to continue through Friday.

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