Albany DA may start action against Lemuel Smith

Jury is told defendant committed 5 area slayings

Lemuel Smith is led into court.

July 20, 1978

The Leader-Herald

The robbery-kidnapping trial of 37-years-old Lemuel Smith, already accused of one murder and linked to four others during dramatic defense testimony, continued in Schenectady today after a psychiatrist testified yesterday the Dorp resident believes the spirit of his dead brother, which "lives" inside him, may have forced him to commit five brutal area slayings spanning a 19-year period.

And that testimony led Albany County Dist. Atty. Sol Greenberg to declare following the testimony that grand jury action may be started against Smith as early as next week.

"This is the break we have been waiting for," Greenberg said of the psychiatrist's testimony. The district attorney said that by testifying, Dr. Zvi Klopott had, in effect, given up the doctor-patient rule of confidentiality and could now testify in Albany County proceeding involving three murders.

Smith is on trial for the Aug. 19, 1977, abduction and robbery of Marianne Maggio, 18, a legal secretary. A separate indictment also charges him with the July 1977 killing of another Schenectady legal secretary, Maralie Wilson.

Dr. Klopott of the Albany Medical Center testified that Smith believes the spirit of his dead brother, John, may have been responsible for the 1976 slayings of an Albany religious store proprietor and a female employee and the killing of a woman in a suburban Colonie shopping center, as well as the death of Maralie Wilson. He also said that Smith believes his brother's spirit may be responsible for the stomping death in 1958 of an Amsterdam woman, a close family friend of the Smith family.

No suspects have been arrested in the 1976 killings and Smith was never charged in the death of the Amsterdam woman, although Smith had reportedly been questioned by police in connection with several of the slayings.

Dr. Klopott told Schenectady County Judge George Stroebel that Smith suffers from a "borderline personality structure" and paranoid schizophrenia, reflected in chronic delusions, a distorted sense of reality and fantasies.

But neither he nor defense witness Dr. Michael Nichols, a clinical psychologist, has testified that Smith was insane at the time of the alleged kidnapping and robbery.

Klopott said that as a boy, Smith was overprotected, got fire and brimstone sermons from his minister father, and slept in the same bed with his mother until he was 12.

Smith pretended his stuffed animals were people and believed the spirit of his brother, John, who died before Lemuel was born, lived in a stuffed panda.

After Smith's mother burned the panda in front of him when he was 12, Smith "made a pact with the devil" and believed John lived on inside himself, Klopott said.

Smith stayed outside the courtroom during Kloppot's testimony. His attorney had requested that and said the psychiatrist's testimony might cause Smith "an emotional injury."