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Smoot lawyer: Investigation shoddy

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By Damon Lawrence

Shawn Smoot’s state-paid defense will include the services of a private investigator. His attorney, Bob Vogel, got a court order in August authorizing the hiring of one.

“He’s been declared indigent and any of those kind of things the state pays for,” said Vogel, a private attorney who was appointed to represent Smoot this year after the public defender’s office stepped aside because of a conflict.
Smoot is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brooke Nicole Morris. Her body was found at the intersection of Blair Road and Old Blair Road on Oct. 15, 2011. Police said she had been shot.
“Why is he getting a private investigator? So we can check out the crime,” Vogel said. “So we can go out and try to figure out all the things that the police did wrong, because, I tell you, there’s a bunch of them in this case.”
Vogel said investigators told Smoot they had a cell phone tower record that showed his phone was in Roane County.
“You know what the truth is? That was a lie,” Vogel said. “There are no cell phone records showing his phone was in Roane County.”
Smoot was indicted by the Roane County grand jury on June 18, 2012. He was arrested in Mississippi after he failed to show up for his arraignment in Roane County Criminal Court. After being transported back to Tennessee, Smoot spent about nine months in the Roane County Jail before his parents posted a $250,000 cash bond for his release this past March.
That raised some suspicions about Smoot’s indigent claims, and prosecutor Bill Reedy filed a motion in May seeking a review of his indigent status. Vogel called it a baseless motion filed to appease Morris’ mother, who has been outspoken about the handling of the case.
“The judge denied it out of hand,” Vogel said. “It took him, what, two minutes to deny it.”
Smoot used to run an insurance business in Knoxville. Reedy also introduced a marital dissolution agreement that required Smoot’s ex-wife to pay him $71,600 in installments between June 2011 and December 2012.
Reedy said the dissolution agreement also called for Smoot to receive an $8,194 IRA account, $1,800 Edward Jones investment account and a $3,450 income-tax refund for tax year 2010.
Vogel said those things don’t mean Smoot can pay for his defense.
“It’s a 2-year-old document, and it’s from a divorce,” Vogel said. “He’s also having to pay off debts from that divorce and everything else.”
Vogel bristles at skepticism about Smoot’s indigent status.
“He’s lost his business,” Vogel said. “He’s lost his livelihood. He’s doing anything he can to make ends meet, and everybody’s all over him because his parents were able to get him out of jail. Would it be better if he was in jail for four years costing the taxpayers to have him in there? Is that what everybody wants?”
Vogel insists Smoot wants to pay for his own defense and not have to rely on the state, but he can’t keep a job because of the murder charge.
“Every time he gets a job, somebody looks up and says ‘Oh, wait a second, you’re that guy that’s accused; we’re not going to keep you here,’ and he gets fired,” Vogel said. “That’s occurred at least two or three times, so he can’t keep a job.”