Murder suspect currently out on bond
After a preliminary hearing in Rappahannock County District Court on December 28, Judge Melissa Cupp certified the first degree murder charge against Flint Hill resident Randy Smoot to a grand jury.
Smoot, 47, was charged October 21 with aggravated malicious wounding after he allegedly assaulted Jonas “Jay” Alther with a heavy object, believed to be an industrial flashlight, on October 19.
Hours later, after Alther succumbed to his injuries, Smoot was also charged with first degree murder.
He was being held at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail until he was released on secured bond.
In the preliminary hearing, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s investigator James Jones played a recording of the call Smoot made to the RCSO following the assault.
In the recording, Smoot acknowledges having a “knock-down, drag-out” fight over the flashlight with Alther in the driveway of Alther’s home off Harris Hollow Road. Smoot then asks the sheriff’s office to send a deputy to check on Alther.
“I just want to make sure I didn’t hurt him,” Smoot says in the recording.
But Jones testified at the hearing that subsequent interviews with Smoot revealed other details that appeared to conflict with Smoot’s initial account.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, at the same time, dropped the malicious wounding charge and changed it to murder.
As he explained in an email to this newspaper on Tuesday, “The malicious wounding charge merges with the murder [charge]. It was charged when Jay Alther was still alive. Once he died, murder is the appropriate charge.”
The grand jury will convene on January 8 to hear the murder charge.