Trial to open in 2015 slaying of western Pa. confidential informant

Trial to open in 2015 slaying of western Pa. confidential informant
(WFTV)

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Trial opens Monday for a man accused of having ordered the murder of a confidential informant 5 1/2 years ago from a Pennsylvania prison.

The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat reports that a jury was picked last week in Cambria County to hear the case against 43-year-old Shakir Mosi Smith, who is charged with first-degree murder and criminal solicitation of first-degree murder.

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Smith is charged in the death of 30-year-old Carol Ashcom, whose body was found in her Lower Yoder Township home in March 2015. Prosecutors allege that Smith said in letters from prison that he blamed her for his drug arrest, wanted her killed and asked that another person be shown where she lived.

Investigators from the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, have alleged that Smith was the leader of a criminal organization based in Johnstown’s Prospect section. Agent Thomas Moore testified at a preliminary hearing in June that investigators intercepted at least 100 letters written by Smith from prison.

Moore testified that one letter at the end of February 2015 instructed that a teenager be shown the location of the victim’s house, where she was found shot to death less than two weeks later. That person, now 20, hasn’t been charged but is serving an unrelated four- to eight-year prison term.

Defense attorney Tim Burns has argued during pretrial hearings that prosecutors have not proven that Smith facilitated or organized the killing of Ashcom.

“What the Commonwealth has presented is a lot of hostility on the part of Mr. Smith. … That hostility alone does not meet a prima facie case for first-degree homicide with accomplice liability,” Burns said during the June proceedings.

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