Friday, January 8, 2010

Miramar, FL: Miramar man jailed for choking girlfriend charged with strangling ex-wife

BY JOEL MARINO AND ALEXIA CAMPBELL
Sun Sentinel

A man jailed since last summer for allegedly trying to choke his girlfriend was charged Thursday in the strangling death of his ex-wife seven years ago in Miramar.
Richard Mark Smith, 44, is accused of killing Lisa Irene Smith in 2003, strangling her in their Miramar home and leaving her body in the bedroom, authorities said.

Miramar police served Richard Smith with an arrest warrant on charges of second-degree murder Thursday morning when he appeared for a battery-related hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. He has been in a county jail in Pompano Beach since Aug. 13, when Hallandale Beach police charged him with trying to choke his girlfriend during a violent dispute.

``Getting to this day is something that's consumed me daily,'' said Lisa Smith's brother, Scott Bentolila, 35, of Davie. ``I've been waiting a long time to see justice served, or at least the start of it.''

Richard Smith's attorney, Anthony Narula, said he could not comment on the murder charge because he is not representing him in that case. It was not known Thursday who was representing him in the murder case.

The Smiths were high school sweethearts, meeting through friends while attending Miramar High School, Bentolila said. They married in 1985 and divorced in 1989 but continued living together until Lisa Smith's death. She was 36.

``He was her first and only love, and that blinded her to a lot of things about him,'' Bentolila said.

Richard Smith has served several prison terms since the 1980s, mostly on burglary and drug-related charges, according to state records.

Lisa Smith's family said he depended on his ex-wife for financial support. An office manager for a law firm, she was a dedicated worker who rarely took a day off, her brother said.

When she didn't show up for work or call in sick on Oct. 24, 2003, worried colleagues telephoned her family, who then called Miramar police.

Officers found Richard Smith inside the home. They also found his ex-wife's body on their bedroom floor.

But police did not have evidence to make an arrest at the time.

That changed last month, when two people came forward with new information, according to his arrest warrant.

One is an inmate who called police from the jail in Pompano Beach to say Richard Smith had been talking to him about Lisa Smith's killing, the warrant said.

Although Richard Smith never said he killed her, he allegedly asked questions about how police could find new evidence after so many years.

Richard Smith also told the man that he had choked his girlfriend twice and punched her in the face, according to the warrant.

That girlfriend, Melinda McGregor, called police in December and agreed to testify against Richard Smith at the Thursday hearing, the warrant said. McGregor told police she was afraid of him but would testify about his violent behavior.

Richard Smith had told her his ex-wife died from natural causes, she said.

``He's probably going where he needs to go,'' McGregor said outside the courtroom.

Sun Sentinel staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

1 comment:

scott said...

I will not let my sisters death be in vain. I am so happy to see this monster get arrested for this crime even if it took 7 years. It was my mission to see this devil go where he belongs. I hope he rots in hell.