Schenectady man admits conspiring to kill witness in murder trial

Monday, November 26, 2012
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— Derrick C. Smith, the Schenectady man who admitted to one killing and then was accused of conspiring to kill witnesses in another murder case, admitted to the conspiracy this morning in court, the prosecutor said.

Smith, 26, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of second-degree conspiracy.

In exchange, Smith is to receive between 5 and 10 years in state prison, a sentence to run consecutive to his earlier 20-year sentence in his manslaughter case, prosecutor Peter Willis said.

Smith pleaded guilty as his trial in the case was set to get underway. Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Andrew Ceresia took the plea, Smith answering "yes" or "no" to the judge's list of questions, Willis said.

Smith was indicted in April by a Schenectady County grand jury on a total of six felony counts of conspiracy, three related to an alleged conspiracy to kill witnesses and three charging a conspiracy to intimidate witnesses.

Smith was accused of conspiring to kill and intimidate witnesses in another man's murder trial.

Smith's unindicted co-conspirator, Wade McCommons, currently serving 46 years to life in his own case, did not face another indictment. Witnesses in McCommons' murder trial were those whom Smith was accused of conspiring with McCommons to kill.

McCommons was convicted of killing a woman during a robbery attempt.

In court today, Smith admitted to conspiring to kill one of the witnesses, Willis said. Investigators at the jail and in the district attorney's office, however, caught the plot before the witnesses were put in physical danger, Willis said.

Prosecutors have said the case related to one of the more egregious acts someone can commit -- targeting witnesses coming forth to tell the truth.

Smith is to be sentenced Dec. 18. He was represented in court by attorney Karen Crandall.

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November 26, 2012
11:54 a.m.
wmarincic says...

If it so egregious of an act why did they take the plea and not trial and make sure this guy never gets out?

November 26, 2012
12:22 p.m.
cfield says...

You never know with juries, besides - at a minimum he will be in his early 50s when he gets out. With that criminal history it will probably take a few tries at the parole board to get released. So, he will not be back on streets until he is almost 60.

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