December 2, 2023
Superior Courtroom signal. File picture

A Seal Seashore homicide case during which the defendant is alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated has been reassigned to a choose in San Diego County.

The retrial of Paul Gentile Smith, accused of a 35-year-old homicide, was reassigned to San Diego County Superior Courtroom Decide Daniel B. Goldstein.

The change follows a brand new spherical of allegations stemming from the Orange County jail informant scandal that has raised questions on dozens of circumstances whereas additionally sparking a Division of Justice inquiry.

A 400-plus web page movement filed Sept. 7 within the case in opposition to Smith, 63, alleged that Orange County Superior Courtroom Decide Ebrahim Baytieh, who initially prosecuted the case, used jailhouse snitches related to just about 100 circumstances.

The order for the swap to San Diego got here from Orange County Superior Courtroom presiding Decide Maria Hernandez Wednesday.

Smith’s prior conviction was thrown out two years in the past on the eve of an evidentiary listening to into alleged misconduct by a sheriff’s investigator.

In August 2022, prosecutors moved to dismiss one other set of expenses – to which Smith beforehand had pleaded responsible – for allegedly soliciting an assault on an Orange County Sheriff’s Division investigator for his work on the homicide case.

Baytieh was fired by Orange County District Legal professional Todd Spitzer in February 2022, months after allegations of misconduct in Smith’s case led Spitzer’s workplace to comply with a retrial for the defendant. Voters nonetheless selected the previous prosecutor 4 months later, making him a Superior Courtroom choose.

A Division of Justice report additionally cited misconduct by Baytieh – not disclosing details about an informant in Smith’s case to protection attorneys in his first trial, in 2010.

The DOJ probe was sparked by the informant scandal within the case of Scott Dekraai, the worst mass killer within the county’s historical past.

Sheriff’s investigators subsequently stated they might invoke their Fifth Modification rights in opposition to self-incrimination in the event that they have been known as to testify in an evidentiary listening to within the case – additional contributing to the prosecutors’ resolution to accede to a retrial for Smith.

Smith’s lawyer, Orange County Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, is in search of an evidentiary listening to for a movement to dismiss  expenses for outrageous governmental conduct.

Sanders alleges that prosecutors and sheriff’s investigators illegally used jailhouse informants to pump Smith for incriminating data that was used to convict him.

Informants can be utilized in some circumstances to legally collect incriminating data, however not after defendants are represented by an lawyer, as was the case with Smith. Sanders additionally alleges that investigators withheld proof of the usage of informants from Smith’s protection group in his earlier trial.

Smith is charged with stabbing Robert Haugen, 29, to demise in Sundown Seashore on Oct. 24, 1988, then setting his physique ablaze.

– Metropolis Information Service