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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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High Court Overturns Woman’s Conviction

From Staff And Wire Reports

The state Supreme Court has overturned on a technicality a Longview woman’s conviction for conspiring to murder her ex-husband.

If the state decides not to retry Shelley Sue Smith, 26, the ruling could knock 15 years off of Smith’s 32-1/2-year prison sentence for attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Winniferd Clements, the now-former Cowlitz County deputy prosecutor who handled the prosecution, said Smith prevailed on “a real hypertechnicality.”

When Clements filled in the blanks of a standardized instruction form, the conspiracy charge was described as “agreeing to agree to commit firstdegree murder.”

The justices, voting unanimously Thursday, found that the jury instructions at the 1993 trial were “constitutionally defective.”

“It … states the wrong crime,” the ruling said.

“The jury simply found, according to its instructions, that the defendant and others agreed to conspire to commit murder, not that they agreed to commit murder,” the ruling said.

The conspiracy count alleged that Smith conspired with her mother and James Jeffers to murder her ex-husband, David G. Smith.

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