Justice for Jacob?

Randy Schmidt | Publisher

Last Wednesday I got word about a case being tried over at the courthouse. All of the real writers were out so I went over to check it out. The trial had started on Tuesday, and a 23-year old man was facing charges for possession of a fully automatic weapon and aggravated assault on a public servant. In plain English, the guy bought all the parts needed over the internet and built an AR 15 style gun. All completely legal.

It was all legal until the receiver was manipulated by Jacob so the gun would fire as a fully automatic machine gun. Now it’s illegal. I watched a You Tube video on how to convert the weapon. It’s pretty simple to do.

Jacob fired the gun on family property. His grandfather told him to bring the gun over to his house, or it would cause a problem with their relationship. Charles Smith, Jacob’s grandfather, turned the gun over to Kendall County Law Enforcement. Jacob saw this as an act of betrayal.

It also led Deputies, armed with an arrest warrant, to knock on the door of the home where  Jacob and his Mom lived, also on the family property.

This is when Jacob was accused of pointing a crossbow at deputies before being hit with a taser. That action will get you arrested for aggravated assault on a public servant, a sentence that can run up to 99 years or life.

When I decided to write about this trial, I wondered how many people I would upset. How many would be mad at me? I hoped every last one of them. Then I calmed down, just a little.

I also had to consider what my friends in law enforcement say, “everything you say, can and will be, used against you.”

I was also an angry young man for many years. I sat there thinking about how many similarities I sharedwith Jacob, maybe not to the same degree, depth or extent, but they were there.

And how different things turned out for me, not just compared to Jacob, but compared to my friends back in the day.

The big difference? I believed in Jesus. I was loved by my family. I had self-worth instilled in me from the crib. My mother convinced me as a child I could and would make a difference in the world.

Still, I had trouble at school. I had a lack of respect for authority and a love of guns. I was a gun nut, but wasn’t violent.

When The Getaway premiered in 1972, I was 18 years old.  Steve McQueen was one of my heroes. He was a car guy, a motorcycle guy and a gun nut. I worked as an usher at The Wonder Theater in San Antonio when Bullit premiered. I saw it most everyday for 9 weeks. McQueen was a hero; he dated blondes and married brunettes. I ended up going out and buying guns just like the ones used in The Getaway: the High Standard Police pump 12 gauge, 6 inch blue Colt Python, Browning Hi Power 9mm and, of course, Doc’s (McQueen) favorite, a Colt 1911. Can you imagine that today? They would be knocking on my door!

Jacob’s Grandfather had many guns, as did my mine. Through all the disfunction and rejection and betrayal by Charles Smith in the end, Jacob idolized him.

Sure, I got into fights, hurt and got hurt. But the times I could have ended up in jail,  something always saved me. Somthing pulled me out of harm’s way at the split second that can ruin a life, or save a life. Luck? A higher power? Was someone trying to show me, tell me, that there may be a plan for you? A plan worth pulling me out of harm’s way? I hope so. Hindsight is 20/20… and here we are, 2020.

There is no doubt Kendall County Deputies did their job just before 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving 2017. There is no doubt that Jacob was guilty of having that gun. Period. End of story. He pled guilty to the weapons charge that carries up to 10 years in jail.

Did he point the crossbow at the KC Deputies? I heard no reason not to believe that story. In so many words, the law says it doesn’t matter – if you’re holding it and if you have intent, you are guilty of aggravated assault on a public servant.

Jacob said he was lifting the bow up to shoot himself. He had made it clear, to anyone that would listen, that he would rather die than go back to jail. Ultimately, the jury didn’t buy his version of the story.

No question The Kendall County District Attorney’s Office should have prosecuted Jacob Charles Smith.

But I do have a few questions: Where the hell was Child Protective Services during all the early years? Where was CPS when a second grader threatened to kill his teacher? Did CPS investigate his home life?

After seeing his mother on the witness stand, I’ll tell you, she is really “out there.” That’s being overly kind.

A wonderful eighty- something year old neighbor spoke of how Jacob would come feed her cows and horses. He was always very kind to her and her husband. When he was around kind people, he was kind. Now she felt as though he was a product of his dysfunctional home life. She told how Jacob’s father walked out of the hospital when he was born and never looked back. He and Jacob’s Mom were not married. Jacob was an embarrassment and rejected from the beginning. Lots of kids overcome that. This one didn’t.

Another witness talked about Jacob’s participation as an athlete in The Special Olympics, and how she came to rely on him as a helper. He was her right hand.

Wait a minute, Special Olympics? You mean Jacob? The menace on trial for threatening to kill his second grade teacher, making knives out of metal he found laying around, sharpening deer antlers into weapons and eventually working up to converting an AR style gun to shoot as a full automatic?

The same Jacob that right before the trial told Kendall County jailers he would wait in the bushes till they got off work, put GPS trackers on their cars to find out where they lived and stab them when they got out got the shower? So they could see what it’s really like to be alone? Yes, one and the same.

You see, Jacob’s mental disorders were skimmed over. Jacob is diagnosed with autism. He is mentally disabled. The picture that was painted by both the prosecution and the defense screamed of this. Did Jacob take his meds? No.

The prosecution tells you that he manipulated people.

The guy is a sociopath. That’s what they do.

He doesn’t care about hurting others’ feelings, laughs when he hurts them and only follows the laws he wants to follow.

A Summary of My Very Rough Real Time Notes

Typed During Testimony

Mother

Subpoenaed as a witness for the prosecution.

• Had called Deputies dozens of times over the years according to the prosecution

• Mother had no recollection of this on the stand. Mom said he was a threat a long time ago, not today.

•ADA very meticulous because they are looking for a life sentence.

• Mother always tried to have charges dropped.

Deputy 1

• Met Jacob four or five years ago arguing with Mom.

• He had homemade modified weapons. Antlers sharpened like  frogging daggers. Shank.

• Agitated youth, trying to get into the Army.

• Tried to calm him down, be a non-judgmental person.

• One time when Jacob was arrested he had a sharpened nail in the band of his underwear.

Deputy 2

• Unruly 14-year old boy

• Liked dangerous weapons

• Deputy tells story about coming to home, Mom says he has weapons. The Deputy heard sounds from Jacob’s room. Jacob had a plastic gun. Deputy pulled back from shooting him. Didn’t want to live as the guy who shot the kid with a BB gun.

• Testimony hard on the Deputy, hard to re-live.

• Mom called and said he attacked her with a hatchet. Mom always wanted charges dropped later.

• Assistant District attorney asks “In your opinion is he a threat to the community?” Yes, it’s escalating. Look on jurors faces. Yikes!

Deputy 3

• Thanksgiving morning 2017

• Five Deputies show up because Jacob had become more violent over the years

• Goal to get everyone home safely

• First time he met Jacob he was going to hit his Mom with a rock.

• Spit on arresting Deputy.

• Assistant District Attorney. Does he pose a threat?

Poses a threat.

Deputy 4

• Called to house in 2011 threatened Mom with hatchet. Ran off into the woods

Family Violence Felony, taken into custody

• 2014 Deputies caught Jacob at gate ranting, very upset with Mom.

• Assistant District Attorney Is he a threat? “I believe he is a threat to the community.”

Second grade Special Ed

Assistant

• monitored Jacob’s behavior in classroom and between classes

• Outbursts, yelling, threaten to slice her throat

Robert Green Lt. Sheriff, Jail Administrator

• Filed complaints for not providing a Bible. Jacob was found to have two Bibles in his cell.

• Jacob filed a use of force grievance against his officers

• Lt. was concerned for officers safety

• Jacob flooded cell in January after returning from the Kerrville Jail

•Kept yelling “Red Rover Red Rover let that bitch come over.”

•Jacob had a long list of complaints

(Randy-playing jail house lawyer in January 2020 didn’t win Jacob any friends. Jacob’s Mom did not visit him since he came back to Kendall County from Kerrville, for the trial

He felt alone and abandoned.)

• ADA to Lt. Green: “Were you aware of his mental health issues?”

“Yes.”

“Was he given medication?” “Yes.”

“Did it help?”

“Yes.”

(I believe this is the first time ADA acknowledged his mental health.)

Ex Detention Officer KCJ

• 9/2019 Jacob urinated on floor

• Non-compliant, racial slurs, repeatedly

• Acted violent, chewed through helmet straps, was strapped down

• 9/18 cell search plastic blade filed down, lewd pics, peanut butter jar of fruit to ferment into alcohol

SRO Officer BHS

• Back when Jacob was in his school

• Disturbance in class

• Choked officer and the officer hyper-extended knee, Jacob laughed at him

• Had to keep an eye on him

• Off campus, bit assistant principal on arm

• Threatened to kill two assistant principals

• Bit a teacher on the arm.

KCJ Detention Officer

• Known Jacob for several years

ADA showed a video

• Agitated outburst in cell with cameras

• Individual cell…..padded room…

• Video of Jacob beating on cell door

• Jacob said “You alienated me from my mom.”

• Stealing from me….officers?

•Jacob was growling like an animal on the video as three officers restrained him

•”By God, my rights,” he said again and again

• Screaming, then started crying as they put a helmet on his head – so he would not hurt himself?

• Jailer – his temper is worse.

Aunt by marriage

• Subpoenaed by prosecution

• Violent outburst since a young boy

• Belligerent kicked out of her day care when he was 10 years old

• Violence has progressed

Jacob on the Stand

The young man on the witness stand was not the person described by the witnesses or the Assistant District Attorney. He was calm and collected, seemed intelligent and was very patient in talking about the November 2017 arrest for the weapons charge.

He went into great detail about what had happened. What is interesting to me is that the prosecution showed a video of him right after his arrest. His testimony was almost word for word compared to what he said two years earlier. Jacob went on to say he would rather die than go back to jail. He felt betrayed by Charles Smith. Notice how he addresses his grandfather,  with the respect of first and last name. Jacob says he took a bottle of pills trying to kill himself the night before his arrest. He had been “alerted” to the impending arrest. Jacob was a self-described hoarder. He said that after 12 months in jail you learn not to throw anything away.

When asked why an AR 15, he  said he was afraid they would be banned. He wanted one for self-defense. You know, Obama-is-going- to-confiscate-your-guns syndrome. As some gun owners are, he was slightly paranoid about this.

The other thing that came up was his “God given right,” a phrase that comes directly from his grandfather. “My rights..” “My laws…” Jacob says this in court and on video. When asked about kicking officers, he said that he had every right, too.

In a quick comeback to the ADA, he said, “You are trying to demonize me before humanizing me. Some of my behavior was caused by the way someone else treated me.” Jacob was calm as he insisted he was going to shoot himself with the crossbow, not the officers.

The ADA asked about suicide by cop. No.

When his mom found out he used her credit card to buy the parts to make the gun, she told him to send the parts back. Instead, he put rocks in the boxes so she thought he actually did what he was told.

Apparently, he always talked about joining the military, but with his record, it would never happen.

Closing Arguments

(paraphrased)

On TV, the defense always goes last, not this time. Court appointed attorney Ron Ortman gave a very convincing closing story about the Code of Hammurabi. He asked the jury to go back some 4000 years to the first collection of laws pertaining to fairness.

While on the surface, an eye for an eye seems barbaric, it actually has a limit. And that is all Jacob is looking for, fairness. Due process means fairness – what is fair in proportion to what the person is convicted of, to be judged on the offenses for which he was convicted.

Kendall County Assistant District Attorney

Erica Matlock

ADA Erica Matlock addressed the jury with we told you we would ask for life. It’s a big ask, but here we are.

Forget the fines, we don’t care about money. The question is, is the community safe with Jacob Charles Smith having the opportunity to get out of prison? He has threatened the life of teachers, law enforcement and his mother. What will he do next?

If you give him less than 60 years, he can be eligible for parole in half the time. We are asking for life.

Jacob Charles Smith was found guilty of: Possession of an Automatic Weapon, sentenced to 10 years; two counts of Aggravated Assault on a Public Servant, 99 years each to run concurrently with the weapons charge.

One of the highlights of the trial was from Judge Abels to the jury.

“Don’t try and make this decision alone. This is something you do together. Wait till the end.” I also took his advice.

Make no doubt about it, defense attorney Ron Ortman was not after a win, but as soft a landing for Jacob as possible.

In my conversation with him, it was obvious he handled a lot of criminal cases. Most of the time the problem was self-induced. Drinking and or drugs were involved when the person committed the crime. Jacob was struck by lightning. In other words, he was born this way.

ADA Erica Matlock never let up. She stated the goal of life and never veered off path. Interestingly, the jury sent a note to the judge on Wednesday asking why they had to sit there and listen to all this testimony when Jacob already pled guilty. The ADA wanted it on the record. She also wanted the jury to hear it again and again. Remember the big ask? Life. In the closing arguments, she posted something on the screen by Joseph Stefano, best known for adapting Robert Bloch’s novel as the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho.

Epilogue:

I am all about fairness and justice. I fight injustice. No matter an animal or human. Big or small.

Should Jacob Charles Smith pay with a prison sentence. Yes. Was justice served? No. No talk of a mental heath. Rehabilitation.

This was a sad set of circumstances.

Thank God no-one died.

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