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Should a man who is out of jail on a $250,000 cash bond be able to afford his own attorney?
The answer is no in the case of accused killer Shawn Smoot.
“He didn’t come up with that money,” attorney Bob Vogel said. “His family did.”
Smoot was released from jail in March after his parents posted the $250,000 cash bond.
Despite the six-figure surety, Smoot is still considered an indigent defendant in Roane County Criminal Court, which means the state is paying for Vogel to represent him.
“People need good attorneys, even if they don’t have any money to pay them,” Vogel said.
Assistant District Attorney General Bill Reedy was skeptical of Smoot’s indigency claims, so he filed a motion asking that it be reconsidered.
Criminal Court Judge Eugene Eblen ruled in favor of the defense at a hearing this month, meaning Smoot will not have to pay for an attorney.
“The law is very specific about this,” Vogel said. “It doesn’t matter how much money his family might have. They have to look at his finances.”
Reedy did look at Smoot’s finances, introducing 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 $3,450 income-tax refund for tax year 2010.
“That’s only a snapshot of a little bit of his finances,” Vogel said. “It doesn’t have his personal debts listed in it. It doesn’t show what he owes anybody, so it’s not a complete picture.”
Vogel was appointed to represent Smoot because the public defender’s office had a conflict.
Vogel said the state is paying him $40 an hour for his services.
“I’m a private attorney,” Vogel said. “Anybody can hire me, but I also do work for the court, so when there’s a conflict with the public defender’s office and the court needs an attorney who’s qualified to do a job like this, they’ll turn to somebody like myself.”
Smoot is accused of killing Brooke Nicole Morris.
Her body was found at Blair Road and Old Blair Road on Oct. 15, 2011.
Police said she had been shot.
“Mr. Smoot is maintaining his innocence,” Vogel said.
“We’re preparing to go to trial and we’re going to put on a defense.”
The case is set for trial next March, but trial dates are tentative and subject to change.
Vogel said delaying the case for several years won’t be a part of his strategy.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’m ready to tell his story.”