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Accused Hwy 169 shooter loses phone privileges over alleged witness tampering

Jamal Smith is charged with fatally shooting a youth coach this past July.
Jamal Smith

The man awaiting trial in July's Highway 169 shooting — in which a youth baseball coach was killed following a "traffic altercation" in the Plymouth area — can only call his lawyers now.

The judge in the case, Nicole Engisch, has granted a request to restrict Jamal Smith's phone access, after he was accused of tampering with witnesses from jail. 

According to court documents filed this past week, prosecutors argued that Smith, 33, has made a number of "problematic calls" while in pretrial detention, during which he allegedly asked someone to delete his Facebook account and advised witnesses to "no longer speak with law enforcement" or to "plead the fifth amendment."

Prosecutors said the calls were made at the jail in Macon County, Illinois — where Smith, a Chicago resident, was apprehended in August — as well as the Hennepin County jail, where he is currently being held. 

The ruling notes that Smith, who has been "on notice" since September 16 that he is not permitted to have "direct or indirect" with witnesses, tried fighting the motion to cut his phone access, arguing that doing so is not within the court's power.

But the ruling argues that, "in exceptional cases," the court does have "limited but inherent" power to restrict mail or phone access in order to protect witnesses. 

Under the judge's orders, Smith is now prohibited from calling anyone but his attorneys, while the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is authorized to use "all necessary measures" to ensure the order.

Smith was charged in September with second-degree murder in the July 6 death of Jay Broughton, who was gunned down during an incident on Highway 169 while driving his son home from a Little League game.

The killing spurred a search for the suspect as well as the vehicle he was in, a light-colored SUV. Smith was ultimately arrested in Decatur, Illinois, thanks partly to a Facebook Live video — recorded prior to the shooting – which allegedly shows him with a gun that matches the one used in the crime. 

He's being held in Minneapolis on a $3.5 million bail. 

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