Ind. Man Convicted of Wife’s Hot Tub Death

August 23, 2006

It took jurors only three hours earlier this week before returning the guilty verdict against Michael B. Smith, 61, after hearing 10 days of testimony.

Prosecutors maintained that Smith killed his 55-year-old wife, Linda, as their business was failing and he wanted to collect more than $300,000 from her life insurance policies.

Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver said during closing arguments Monday that while defense attorneys had raised several opposing theories about Linda Smith’s death, no one else had a motive to kill her.

“Michael Smith had 312,000 motives to kill Linda Smith,” Oliver said.

The couple co-owned Custom Mats of America, which made floor mats and wall hangings with corporate logos.

Smith, who did not testify during the murder trial, called 911 for help in the early hours of Nov. 9, 2003, saying there had been an accident at his home in northern Brown County, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. He was not charged until February of this year.

Defense attorney Andrew Roesener asked jurors to consider nearly a dozen alternative theories as to how Linda Smith died, ranging from a slip-and-fall accident to a drug addict searching for something to steal who happened upon her in the hot tub in an outbuilding on the couple’s property.

A pathologist for the prosecution testified Linda Smith was strangled, while a pathologist called by defense attorneys said he believed that she had drowned in an accident.

The judge scheduled sentencing for Sept. 21, with Smith facing a prison term of 45 years to 65 years.

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