John Garrett Smith of Vancouver, Washington originally made headlines back in December 2014 when he was arrested for the attempted murder of his wife. The original story, captured by The Columbian, discussed Smith’s life with his wife. Smith, just 46 at the time of his arrest, lived in a $1.5 million home on the Columbia River and jointly operated a clean energy business.
In June 2013, Smith engaged in a night of extreme violence against his wife, Sheryl. He was charged with the attempted murder of his wife, whom he tried to punch and then strangle, says The Columbian.
After he tried to kill her, he allegedly fled his home and left her to die. He did not, however, realize that she was still alive. It was then that the couple’s 18-year-old daughter came home to find her mother. Her mother made it clear to her who had attacked her.
Caught On Voicemail
In the voicemail recording, Sheryl’s screams could be heard in the background as her husband violently beat her. Garrett Smith had called his phone, and it had captured him almost killing his wife, says The Daily Beast.
That voicemail was what landed him in prison. However, it may now be the reason he is released from prison early.
He was found guilty of assault and attempted murder in 2015. In the voicemail recording, Smith was captured stating that he would kill his wife. The conviction hinged on the voicemail evidence.
At one point during the attack, Smith called his cell phone to find it in the house. The call went to voicemail, which was then what recorded Sheryl’s screams in the background.
At the time of his trial, Smith’s attorney made it clear that the threats captured by voicemail should not be taken literally, says The Daily Beast.
In a letter to the court in February 2015, Smith stated that he did not intend to cause harm to his wife, reports The Columbian.
The judge in that case did not agree with the statements from Smith. Instead, he found him guilty of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault. He was then sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Smith’s attorneys filed an appeal because his voicemail recording could not be used. Neither party gave their consent to be recorded. In the state of Washington, it is required that both parties give consent, says The Daily Beast. The appeals court agreed with this statement.
Because the recording was what led to his conviction, the appeals court reversed the guilty ruling for second-degree attempted murder and has remanded him for a new trial.
Prosecutors may request a new trial or work with Smith to have him plead out to the original assault charge. A plea would then allow Smith to count any prison time toward his assault sentence, says The Daily Beast.
The community is partially in celebration for his overturn. Some feel that Sheryl was not as much of a victim as she claimed, and some even accused her of extorting money from her husband, states The Daily Beast.
As of now, the fate of Smith awaits his new trial or if he chooses to strike a plea bargain. However, the courts have agreed that the use of his voicemail was unconstitutional and against Washington’s recording laws.