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Arrest affidavit unsealed after Jefferson County man charged with murder in wife's 2020 death

kanokwan smith
Posted at 12:36 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 14:36:56-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — An arrest affidavit for a Jefferson County man accused of murdering his wife revealed that he or somebody else not in law enforcement allegedly removed cameras from inside the home between investigators' first and second searches of the house.

According to an arrest affidavit, on Nov. 1, 2020 at 7:14 p.m., JeffCom911 received a call from a man who identified himself as Scott Smith. The 46-year-old said his wife had just tried to kill him with a butcher knife and he feared for his life, so he used his firearm against her. When the dispatcher asked if he had shot his wife, he replied, "Yes, I had to, no choice," according to the affidavit. When the dispatcher asked where she was shot, the line disconnected.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Zachary Oliver and Deputy Jeffrey Smith responded to the scene at 7:19 p.m. When they arrived, Scott Smith walked outside the home and appeared to be on the phone. He was taken into custody without incident. He told the deputies the gun was next to his wife downstairs. He didn't have any visible injuries. according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputy Oliver went inside the home and did not see any signs of struggle on the main floor. In the basement, he saw a woman — later identified as Kanokwan "Nok" Smith, 48 — lying on her back in a small storage room. There was a pool of blood under her head. Deputy Oliver didn't see a knife, but one was later found under her right calf. He noted that she did not have a pulse and was not breathing, according to the affidavit. A black handgun was about four or five feet away from her.

An autopsy revealed that she had been shot and the bullet had traveled from the middle of her nose and stopped just under the skin in the back of her neck, according to the affidavit. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

At the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office headquarters, investigators tried to talk with Scott Smith, but he refused and requested an attorney.

They obtained a search warrant for the home on Nov. 2, 2020.

Investigators then contacted his mother, Theresa Rino, at her Littleton home. She agreed to come in for an interview and stated her son had called her and said Kanokwan Smith "came at him with a butcher knife, he feared for his life, and he had to shoot her," according to the affidavit. She explained the two had had an estranged relationship for many years and Scott Smith had been living in the basement while Kanokwan Smith lived upstairs.

Rino said Scott Smith had recently filed for divorce after he found evidence that Kanokwan Smith had property and financial assets that he did not know about, including a nail salon in Colorado Springs and property in Hawaii, according to the affidavit. She had also deducted $90,000 from a college account and taken out a $1,000,000 life insurance policy on Scott Smith, Rino told investigators.

She said her son had a gun safe and numerous firearms. After fearing that somebody was following him, a private investigator he had hired suggested he install surveillance cameras inside of home. Rino said she believed her son installed the cameras because he thought Kanokwan Smith would come after him and blame him for something, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 2, 2020 at 5:30 a.m., Scott Smith was booked into the Jefferson County Detention facility on a first-degree murder charge. Four days later, the Jefferson County District Attorney declined to file the charges and he was released from jail that day.

On Nov. 4, investigators talked with a woman who had known Kanokwan Smith for six years and was a hair stylist client. Kanokwan Smith worked at the Fuel Salon and Spa in Highlands Ranch. The friend said she complained about Scott Smith often, typically about how she worked multiple jobs while he stayed home with their child. They had plans to meet on Nov. 1 to talk about the divorce paperwork Scott Smith had shown her, according to the affidavit.

That day, Kanokwan Smith was crying when she met with her friend and said Scott Smith had told their daughter about the divorce. She added that he had made allegations about her moving large amounts of money. The friend told investigators she knew Kanokwan Smith sent money to her mother in Thailand periodically. Kanokwan Smith told her that she "feared for her life because Scott had a lot of guns," and worried that he may try to kill her and take her money, according to the affidavit.

In reviewed jail calls, investigators heard multiple conversations between Scott Smith and his mother. In one, she asked if there were cameras in the basement and he replied, "No cameras." In another conversation, he described where each of the cameras are inside the house and said police likely took them, but he wanted to see if she could get them if they hadn't. They're on a 48-hour loop that erases, he explained. He told Rino that after he shot Kanokwan Smith, he wanted to preserve the cameras and was afraid they'd get picked up by police, so he put them in the garage, according to the affidavit.

The cameras were designed to look like a phone charger block.

On Nov. 7, an investigator spoke with Rino, who said she had visited Scott Smith's residence to look for the cameras he had referenced over the phone, but claimed she had not found them. She allowed law enforcement to search her home for the cameras, which they did not find, according to the affidavit.

Authorities reviewed the inventory from Scott Smith's home following the initial search warrant and did not find any items that resembled the cameras he had talked about. However, photos from the search warrant showed the cameras in place.

The same day they spoke with Rino — Nov. 7 — investigators obtained a search warrant again for the Scott Smith home specifically to search for the cameras. When they arrived, they found Scott Smith and his father moving belongings from the house into two vehicles. The cars were searched but the cameras were not found. Inside the home, they found a duffel bag that appeared to be packed in preparation to move elsewhere. In a small canvas bag, investigators found two black USB phone charger-style cameras with SD cards.

When compared to the conversation Scott Smith had with Rino in jail, investigators determined that they were missing three cameras that had been in the house during the first search.

It's not clear if those cameras were ever recovered.

About nine months later, in August 2021, investigators conducted two separate interviews.

One of the interviews was with a woman who met Scott Smith through the dating website Plenty of Fish. She said they communicated often between July and August 2020 and only met in person a few times. She called him "emotionally present" and while they would hold hands, they were not physically intimate. She said he was not aggressive, but knew he always carried a pistol. He frequently spoke about wanting a divorce and full custody of their daughter, according to the affidavit.

In a second interview, investigators talked with a woman who started seeing Smith as a counselor in June 2020. She said he did not understand the line between professional and personal, and talked about his personal life often. She said from the way he talked, she assumed he was already divorced. They set up a standing appointment every Sunday at 2 p.m., but on Nov. 1, 2020, he did not show up or alert her to cancel or reschedule, according to the affidavit.

Scott Smith was arrested again on Sept. 24, 2021 on first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and domestic violence charges.

On Oct. 1, 2021, Scott Smith's mother, Rino, was arrested. She is charged with accessory to crime, attempt to commit tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence.

That day, friends of Kanokwan Smith said the two arrests were answers to their questions about what happened to Kanokwan Smith.

"We know her, and we loved her and we wanted her to have justice," said friend Melissa Weesner.