A Colorado man who was initially a suspect in his wife’s death, but had been released from police custody due to insufficient evidence, was charged with first-degree murder 10 months after the fatal shooting.
Police have also charged his mother with tampering with evidence in connection to the killing.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a man who reportedly told police he shot his wife after she came at him with a butcher knife on Nov. 1, 2020.
Officials said the caller’s wife, Kanokwan (Nok) Smith, 47, was found inside their home in the 5400 block of West Ottawa Avenue in Littleton and pronounced dead at the scene, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.
Scott Lee Smith, 46, was identified as the alleged killer and booked into the Jefferson County Detention Facility. He was detained on suspicion of first-degree murder that day but was released several days later when prosecutors decided they lacked sufficient evidence to support criminal charges.
Smith told police his wife tried to kill him with a butcher knife, according to an affidavit obtained by TheDenverChannel.com. Smith reportedly told police he had no choice but to shoot and kill her, though he was unharmed during the alleged attack, and there was no mention of any evidence suggesting a struggle inside the small room where Kanokwan was shot.
Court documents showed Smith filed for divorce a few weeks earlier.
Family friends were reportedly outraged when Smith was released. A neighbor told local media Nok was a kind-hearted hard worker who juggled three jobs, including a card dealer at the Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk.
"She’ll never be able to wrap her arms around her little girl again and he shouldn’t have that right," Dominique Naylor said after Smith was released.
"He shouldn’t be out and he shouldn’t be free."
Naylor and other neighbors reportedly said they had no doubt Smith was responsible for the killing, claiming he, "wasn't the kind of person you ever wanted to see (Kanokwan Smith) with."
Smith was arrested again on Sept. 24 after an arrest warrant was granted and was booked into the Jefferson County Detention Facility on first-degree murder charges, as well as tampering with physical evidence and domestic violence.
His mother was also arrested this week in connection with the case. Theresa Rino, 66, was booked into the Jefferson County Detention Facility on a warrant for charges of accessory to crime, attempt to commit tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence, according to a statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Her bond was set at $5,000.