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Thu, June 20

Second Golden Valley murder trial set

A judge Monday scheduled the retrial of Chip Moray Smith for an August 2001 slaying in Golden Valley to begin May 30.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss set the new trial date.

Smith's first trial ended when Weiss declared a mistrial March 21 after a jury reached a deadlock over whether Smith fatally shot Chris Darren Payton along Santa Maria Road.

The 10-women, two men jury deliberated for two days following the week and a half trial.

Authorities first thought Payton, 39, of Golden Valley was a victim of the fatal accident after his pickup flipped along Santa Maria Road in the early morning hours of Aug.

13, 2001.

Police discovered the car later that morning.

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

During the first trial, Deputy Mohave County Attorney Lee Jantzen relied on several witnesses, especially his lone eyewitness to the shooting, Ashley Holmes.

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

12, and that Smith drove her and her fiancé from the residence to where Payton was driving up and down Santa Maria Road.

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

The truck then rolled into a ditch and flipped over, she testified.

Jantzen also argued that Smith, who was supposed to be Payton's friend, did not stop or even call police while later driving by and seeing Payton lay beside his overturned truck.

Jantzen implied that an innocent person would have stopped or sought help.

Jantzen hinted Monday that other witnesses, such as Holmes' fiancé, who were unable to be contacted for the first trial might appear as witnesses in the second trial.

Smith's Flagstaff attorney, Michael Hruby, argued during the first trial there was no DNA, fingerprints or other physical evidence that could be tied to Smith.

Hruby also hammered away at Holmes' credibility.

Hruby argued that there was no evidence, other than the bullet wound, of bruising on Payton, contradicting Holmes testimony of a struggle.

At Monday's hearing, Hruby also asked for written transcripts of Holmes' testimony and testimony of other witnesses during the first trial.


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