Commonwealth Journal

December 21, 2013

Prosecutors hope to show ‘pattern of abuse’ with Burnside man accused of beating wife

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Prosecutors hope to point out a Burnside man’s history of alleged abuse against several women as part of an assault case in which he allegedly critically injured his wife.

Christopher T. Smith, 44, is facing one count of first-degree assault, a Class B felony, in connection with the Aug. 20, 2013 incident during which he allegedly seriously injured his wife and left her at their home to go to work.

The investigation into the alleged assault on Mullins began just after midnight on Aug. 20 after Smith called Pulaski County 911 and said he found his wife unresponsive in their home at 755 Caney Branch Road, according to Lt. Det. Brett Whitaker, with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

Smith was returning home from working at Wayne County EMS.

Mullins was treated at their home by Somerset-Pulaski County EMS and flown to the UK Medical Center. Whitaker said law enforcement did not initially respond because the incident was reported as a medical emergency and not a possible crime.

Whitaker said medical staff while treating Mullins noticed “unexplained bruising and injuries on her head and body.” That’s when the sheriff’s department was contacted, and detectives began looking into the incident as a possible crime.

Whitaker said detectives soon learned there was a “substantial history of domestic violence” in the relationship.

Whitaker said Mullins was injured so severely that she was transferred from UK to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center. Whitaker said Mullins suffered in the alleged incident from a brain injury that “substantially affected her memory.”

Detectives eventually concluded that Smith and Mullins fought on Aug. 19, 2012, and Smith allegedly assaulted Mullins during that incident. Smith then left the home to go to work, and returned home the following night to find her “unresponsive,” according to Whitaker.

Now, prosecutors have filed a motion intending to introduce 404(b) evidence in the case, which is evidence that can point to a pattern of past similar behavior. According to motions filed in Pulaski Circuit Court, prosecutors intend to call three women — identified in the motion as Jane Firth, Courtney Smith Wooton, and Robin Daulton —  to testify about Smith’s alleged past history of domestic violence.

“In particular the Commonwealth anticipates that they will testify to actual violence perpetrated by (Smith) to them during their relationships,” states the motion.

Wooton, one of the women prosecutors plan to call to the stand, took out a domestic violence order against Smith in 2002 in Pulaski County. According to that complaint, Smith grabbed Wooton by the throat and shoved her across the living room of the couple’s home.

“About 10 minutes after, he hit me in the face with his hand,” stated Wooton in the 2002 petition. “I am afraid this will happen again and I fear for my safety.”

Prosecutors also plan to call Madison County EMS Director Jimmy Cornielson “regarding (Smith’s) time of employment and ultimate dismissal,” states the motion.

“The Commonwealth also believes that Cornielson will testify regarding (Smith’s) use of alcohol as they relate toward his violence toward women,” the motion states. Prosecutors also expect Cornielson’s testimony will corroborate Firth’s testimony about the alleged domestic violence.

The motion also states that prosecutors plan to present evidence pointing out that “(Smith) had previously beaten and abused (Mullins) in this case.”

“The Commonwealth will introduce evidence that the victim had collected hair that (Smith) had pulled from her head during prior acts of domestic violence,” states the motion. “Furthermore, the Commonwealth will introduce evidence by way of photographs showing signs of previous abuse.”

Smith’s trial was scheduled for January 6, 2014, but prosecutors have asked that the trial be continued as they investigate evidence of past alleged domestic violence and as they wait for evidence from Smith’s defense team to be turned over to prosecutors.

A hearing on the motions is scheduled for this upcoming week.