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5:53 AM Thu, Jan. 17th

Last-minute details discussed before second Golden Valley murder trial

A judge has allowed a crime scene expert to testify during the murder retrial of a Golden Valley man.

The second trial for Chip Moray Smith has been scheduled to begin Sept.


Smith, 32, is charged with the first-degree murder of Chris Darren Payton along Santa Maria Road in August 2001.

Smith's first trial ended March 21 after the 10-woman, two-man jury declared itself deadlocked after deliberating for two days.

The judge declared a mistrial.

Smith's attorney, Michael Hruby, asked for a crime scene reconstructionist to serve as an expert witness during the second trial.

Hruby said the first jury either disregarded some of the evidence presented during the first trial or did not understand it.

"The physical evidence and the crime scene evidence did not match the state's main witness," Hruby said during a hearing Monday in Mohave County Superior Court.

He said his expert witness, who has worked with the Phoenix crime lab for more than 27 years, would help jury more clearly understand the crime scene evidence.

Hruby also said he has received transcripts from only three of the eight days of the first trial.

He said he needed about a month before the retrial to go over the additional transcripts.

Court reporter Rick Pulver said he sent the completed transcripts to Hruby more than a week ago.

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Lee Jantzen questioned the need of crime scene reconstructionist.

Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss granted the request for the expert witness but only for $1,500 of the $2,500 requested by Hruby.

Hruby would not disclose a second witness he may call.

Weiss set Aug.

8 as the last day to disclose any witnesses either side would call to the stand.

Payton, 39, of Golden Valley was thought to be a victim of a fatal accident after his pickup flipped along Santa Maria Road early Aug.

13, 2001.

An autopsy later revealed a bullet wound to Payton's forehead and his death was ruled a homicide.

During the first trial, Jantzen relied on several witnesses rather than physical evidence, especially the lone eyewitness to the slaying, Ashley Holmes.

Holmes testified that an unusually angry Smith arrived at Payton's residence the night of Aug.

12, and that Smith later drove her and her fiancé from the residence to where Payton was driving his pickup along the road.

She also described how Smith slammed the brakes of his vehicle, grabbed a rifle and went to Payton's truck window, striking him with the gun and his fist and shooting Payton once in the head.