Michael B. Smith, 61, of Trafalgar, Indiana appeared in court this week to be formally charged with strangling his wife, Linda, in their hot tub in November 2003.
Investigators said that Smith was facing financial troubles and that a life insurance policy in the amount of $250,000 payable on the death of his wife added to the suspicions about his involvement.
However, Smith filed a lawsuit last year against the Brown County sheriff for saying Smith was a suspect in the death, and defense attorney Tom Barr said Monday that Smith maintains his innocence.
According to the Smith account of what happened he had fallen asleep while his wife was in the hot tub in a small building behind their house about 25 miles south of Indianapolis. Smith said that he awoke hours later to the sound of their dogs barking and found his wife face-down in the water but was unable to revive her.
Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver said that there were no signs of forced entry into the building where the hot tub was located. He added that none of Linda Smith’s jewelry was taken.
Further investigation uncovered evidence that the couple was in financial difficulty and that Linda was considering leaving Michael at the time of her death, Oliver added.
Brown County Detective Steve Brahaum said Michael Smith, the owner of Custom Mat of America, has since filed for bankruptcy and that a foreclosure is pending on Smith’s home.
Two lawsuits from insurance companies are pending against Michael Smith, who has not collected insurance payments for his wife’s death. Oliver said both lawsuits challenge Smith’s eligibility for the money, the Associated Press said in its recent article.
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