Affidavit: Casper Man Killed Wife; History of Domestic Violence
Investigators believe a Casper man killed his wife inside their home less than two weeks ago, but the homicide was preceded by a long history of domestic violence between the two.
Rodney Hayes Smith II, 51, is charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of being a habitual criminal. The manslaughter charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but the habitual criminal enhancement could allow prosecutors to put Smith behind bars for the rest of his life.
He is accused of striking his late wife, 42-year-old Anne Mae Smith, with his right elbow, causing her to fall and hit her head on the floor, during an argument the night of Nov. 29.
Rodney Smith called first responders to the couple's home at 6401 Village Drive shortly before 1:30 p.m. the following day. Medical personnel found Anne Smith's body and pronounced her dead at the scene.
Rodney Smith told police officers that he went to bed very early the night of Nov. 29, but his son woke him at roughly 10 p.m. and explained that he could hear Anne Smith "breaking things and trashing her room," according to an affidavit of probable cause filed Monday in Natrona County Circuit Court.
Police heard from Rodney Smith that it was not unusual for his wife to behave that way. He claimed she was an alcoholic and could get out of control.
According to Rodney Smith, the couple argued before Anne Smith fell down the stairs. Smith said that he covered her and carried her to bed, thinking she "was just severely intoxicated and needed to sleep."
The next morning, Smith said, he found his wife had not gotten out of bed. He went in and found her dead, then called 911.
"Several things in the home were found that seemed odd, but nothing was located that showed direct evidence to the circumstances Rodney S. claimed happened," the affidavit states. However, a police officer told a detective that he believed Smith was deleting images and text messages from his phone while police processed the scene.
When questioned about his phone, Smith told the detective that he had taken one photo of his wife during the incident and sent it to one of his daughters. The photo reportedly showed Anne Smith laying at the bottom of the stairs with a towel covering her body. Smith said he had no other conversations around the time of the incident and he had erased the photo.
However, the detective was able to see the media sent on the phone belonging to Smith's daughter, and noted several videos rather than one single image as Smith had claimed. The videos showed timestamps from roughly 1:45 a.m. that day.
Smith told police there had never been any violence between himself and his late wife, and he denied having ever struck or physically harmed her.
During an interview at the police department, Smith reportedly gave a statement which was inconsistent with what he previously told police. He also "changed versions of several factors of the event," according to the affidavit.
"Rodney S. also had no plausible explanation for not being honest with Detective Jones and could not provide specific details about the timeline of the event," the affidavit states. "Rodney S. kept blaming Anne S.'s alcohol addiction and suicidal ideations for the likely cause of her death."
An autopsy determined that Anne Smith died from a subdural hematoma, which can occur when a blood vessel near the surface of the brain bursts. Subdural hematomas are usually caused by severe trauma to a person's head.
The autopsy also revealed "numerous other notable injuries [on Smith's body] that were documented."
The detective then learned that there was a "suspected long history of domestic violence" between Rodney and Anne Smith.
"Anne S. had reported numerous occasions where Rodney S. had hurt her in various fashions," the affidavit states.
Rodney Smith, who was being held in the Natrona County Detention Center on an out-of-state warrant, was again interviewed by detectives on Dec. 5.
During that interview, he "finally admitted to the history of repeated violence in the home," according to the affidavit. He also allegedly told the detectives that there was more to the story.
Smith said that he had gone to check on his wife and tried to get her to go to bed the night of Nov. 29. She followed him out of the room, then slipped and fell down the stairs. But instead of being knocked unconscious from the fall, she got up and was yelling at Smith.
"She was wearing only her underwear and tried to leave the house," the affidavit states. "Rodney S. got between her and the door and would not allow her to leave."
Smith told detectives that his wife "came up behind him to attack him," and that's when he used his right elbow to hit her in the head.
"Anne S. immediately fell back and hit the back of her head on the floor. She then stopped talking and moving," the affidavit states. "At one point he thought she mumbled something to him."
Anne Smith did not "talk or fight or significantly move" after falling to the ground, according to Smith's account as reflected in the affidavit. "The next morning he found her obviously deceased and called 911," the document states.
The habitual criminal enhancement was applied in this case due to Smith having been previously convicted of at least three felony charges. In Natrona County, those felonies were a 1991 burglary, aggravated burglary in 2001 and accessory after the fact that same year.
In Sweetwater County, prosecutors say, Smith has been convicted of buying, receiving or concealing stolen property in 2001 and again in 2006, burglary in 2006 and forgery, though the date for the latter charge was not specified in court documents.
During his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Monday, Smith's bond was set at $100,000. The state public defender's office was appointed to represent him.
Smith's next court appearance will be Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. During that preliminary hearing, the state must prove it has sufficient evidence of the alleged crimes for the charges to be bound over to Natrona County District Court for trial.