Schenectady man admits plot to kill witnesses in murder case

Smith, 26, already in prison in previous manslaughter case

Tuesday, November 27, 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 Monday 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 a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, to run consecutively to his earlier 20-year sentence in his manslaughter case, prosecutor Peter Willis said.

Smith pleaded guilty as his trial was set to get under way. Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Andrew Ceresia took the plea.

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 plot 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, that of Wade McCommons. McCommons was convicted last year in the killing of Laurel Teer during a botched 2009 deli robbery.

McCommons, Smith’s unindicted co-conspirator, is currently serving 46 years to life in the Teer case. Prosecutors have cited McCommons’ own lengthy sentence in not prosecuting him in the conspiracy. McCommons, though, was found in contempt of court earlier this year for giving out documents from the trial in violation of a judge’s order. The finding was largely symbolic, carrying essentially no extra time. Both McCommons and Smith were members of the Bloods street gang, authorities have said.

In court Monday, 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.

Smith is already serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter, admitting to the June 2010 killing of 21-year-old Michael DeVeaux Jr., outside the El Dorado Bar in Schenectady.

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