Murder trial opens in death of Highland woman

2013-02-11T19:40:00Z 2013-02-25T00:45:03Z Murder trial opens in death of Highland womanSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
February 11, 2013 7:40 pm  • 

HIGHLAND | Prosecutors on Monday told a Lake County criminal court jury last year's fatal shooting of a Highland woman was no accident as defense attorneys claimed.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sabrina Haney argued evidence would show Douglas Smith, 27, murdered his girlfriend, Jacqueline Williams, who was found shot dead in January 2012 in the couple's Highland duplex. 

Williams, 28, of the 2600 block of 40th Place, was found dead inside the couple's home after she failed to report to work at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

Co-workers of Williams met police at her home after contacting police about the woman's absence.

Entering the home, police discovered Williams shot in the head on a bedroom floor of the tri-level duplex after finding a blood spatter in a lower level dining area, Haney said.

Williams and Smith were last seen together at a Highland bar in the early morning hours on the Saturday that Williams is believed to have been killed. Police said at the time they believe Williams was shot during an argument when the couple arrived home.

An acquaintance of Williams testified Monday she observed Smith grabbing Williams' arm at a local bar while swearing at the woman. Williams jerked her arm away as the couple started arguing, the woman told jurors.

Defense attorney William Padula, of Munster, told jurors they must consider whether Smith intended to kill the woman.

The shooting was an accident, not murder, Padula said.

The couple had had a tumultuous relationship, he said. Both were heavy drinkers.

While Haney said an autopsy showed Williams had an alcohol level of .188, Padula said it was .23, some three times the legal limit.

Padula said "something went horribly, horribly wrong," and Smith fled out of panic and fear.

Smith was extradited from Florida to face charges.

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