Skip to comments.Salem minister enters Alford plea in attempted murder of man
Posted on 01/29/2004 6:29:08 PM PST by Darnright
The only thing standing between the Rev. Judy Brown and a future with Toby Lynn Smart was Smart's minister husband, so Brown came up with a chilling plot to kill him.
That's how Salem Commonwealth's Attorney Fred King would have argued the case, anyway, had it gone to trial. Instead, Brown entered two Alford pleas Wednesday, meaning that she admitted no guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors would likely have proven the charges.
The Rev. Judy Lynn Brown, 51, was charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit murder and malicious wounding in connection with a crowbar attack on Edwin H. "Ted" Smart in his dark basement last summer. Circuit Judge Jim Swanson deferred sentencing until after a presentencing report.
King said Brown met Toby Lynn Smart at Life Bible College in Christiansburg in 2000 and the two became friends. After moving away for a year, Brown returned to Salem and moved into the Smarts' basement apartment on Easton Road.
For a time, Brown attended Word of Life, where Ted Smart preached. Then she began ministering at Salem Worship Center.
Salem Police Det. Todd Clayton testified Wednesday that some relatives came to stay with the Smarts at one point, so Toby Smart moved into the basement to share a bed with Brown for three weeks. That's when Ted Smart began to notice a difference in his wife, Clayton said.
In early 2003, Brown purchased a house next door to the Smarts and moved there.
Brown brought a letter to Toby Smart in June, saying she had received it from an unknown source, Clayton said. The letter warned that Ted Smart had been seen with another woman. It was signed "church couple."
The next month, Brown brought another anonymous letter over that was addressed to Toby Smart in care of Brown, Clayton testified.
"We told you about Pastor Ted so you would know, not for him to know and act like it's not true, " it read, and ended, "We're praying for you."
About the same time, Clayton said, Brown came to the Smarts' house and asked to borrow some wrapping paper, which she knew was kept under the couple's bed. Some black underwear was later found under the bed, and because they were not Toby Smart's , Brown told her that her husband must be having an affair, said King.
King said there is not enough evidence to know exactly the intent of the letters and underwear, but it is possible that they were the first attempts to drive a wedge between Ted and Toby Smart.
On Aug. 25, 2003, Toby Smart was in New York with a grown son from a previous marriage, King said. After the Smarts' son left for school that morning, the minister was left alone in his house.
The power went out so Smart went down to the basement to check the fuse box, Clayton said. Smart was then struck on the back of the head by someone wielding a crowbar.
Clayton said Smart went to his knees, then stood and turned around to see Brown there. He was struck two more times before he was able to wrestle the crowbar away, run upstairs and call the police.
Clayton said Smart was bleeding from the head when officers arrived and Brown was in the front yard complaining of back injuries. Officers who searched the Smart home found a Wal-Mart bag in the basement kitchenette . The bag contained a large outdoor trash bag, a long knife, three pairs of latex gloves, a flashlight, a bottle of water and a washcloth , Clayton said.
A crowbar found in the basement did not belong in the house, Clayton said, nor did some of the other items. Also found was a large butcher knife belonging to the Smarts that had been removed from a drawer in their kitchen and placed on the counter upstairs.
King said someone would have had to enter the house upstairs in order to get down to the basement apartment.
Brown told police after the attack that she had seen "a black male on her property and she had scared him off," then went to the Smarts' house, where she let herself in with a key and fell asleep in the basement.
She said she does not remember how Ted Smart was injured.
Clayton said Brown reported to police just two weeks before the Aug. 25 attack that a prowler had been in her garage, but no report was filed.
Police executed a search warrant on Brown's home and seized her computer, which contained several e-mails from Brown to Toby Smart. They were entered into evidence Wednesday.
"I thought about you all during church today ... You are the joy of my life. I love you very much," one read.
Another read, "I treasure you more than any amount of words can say ... I am totally and so deeply in love with you," and yet another read, "I'm so ready to be with you I get butterflies just thinking about it. I love you."
King said police looked for a computer at the Smart residence but were told it was the sole item stolen during a break-in a few months before. Police did, however, find some replies to Brown from Toby Smart on Brown's computer.
One read, "I just left you sleeping in your bed. How I wanted to stay and hold you through the night ... I love you Judy with my whole heart."
"We only have the one e-mail from Toby to Judy," King said. "We would have loved to have that other computer."
No charges were filed against Toby Smart, who was not in court Wednesday. Ted Smart quickly left the courthouse. King did not know the status of Brown's position at her church or the status of the relationship between Ted and Toby Smart.
Defense attorney Chris Kowalczuk said he plans to enter evidence at a presentencing hearing that Brown suffered from a medical condition called "transglobal amnesia," which may explain her inability to remember what happened the morning of Aug. 25.
"Events can happen and regular memory imprint is not laid down," he said.
That evidence, along with a presentencing report and a victim's impact statement, will be heard at the March 26 hearing. Brown faces a maximum of 40 years to life in prison.
Brown remained free on bond pending the next hearing, but Swanson warned her to stay away from the Smarts. He warned Toby Smart to have no contact with Brown.
Said King, "This is the most unusual case we have ever handled."
This is the weirdest thing to have ever happened in Salem, Virginia.