The initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon for the man charged with fatally shooting a driver in Plymouth was delayed a day after Hennepin County sheriff's deputies reportedly said the suspect "was too violent" to meet with his attorney and attend the virtual hearing.
Jamal L. Smith, 33, of Chicago, was extradited from central Illinois, where he was captured Aug. 24, and booked Tuesday night in the Hennepin County jail on charges he killed Jay Boughton, 56, of Crystal.
In the moments before Smith's hearing was to begin, word came out during a back-and-forth between prosecutor Judith Cole and public defense attorney Shauna Kieffer of the difficulty deputies were having with her client.
At Kieffer's request, Judge Daniel Moreno granted the delay. Smith remains jailed in lieu of $2 million preliminary bail.
"I have not spoken to this man," the public defender said, "and it's a very serious case."
A moment later, the clerk announced, "Per order of the judge, that matter will be moved to tomorrow so that a public defender can talk to them if they so choose."
No information was released about what Smith had done to force the delay.
When questioned through a spokeswoman for the County Attorney's Office, Cole had no further details.
Meanwhile, Sheriff's Office spokesman Andy Skoogman said deputies reported no issues with Smith while in custody.
Smith, who is charged with second-degree intentional murder and aiding an offender after the fact, allegedly shot from his car and killed Boughton July 6 as they drove southbound on Hwy. 169 near Rockford Road. Boughton's teenage son was at his father's side at the time.
Smith was arrested in Decatur, Ill., four days after charges were filed Aug. 20 but kept sealed by a judge from public view until Sept. 3.
Thursday's newly scheduled hearing will likely address, among other issues, bail amount and legal representation.
According to the charges, Boughton's son, Harrison, told police that on the day of the shooting, an SUV pulled up alongside them, and his father "gestured" at its driver. Within 10 seconds, the son said, the driver's side window was shattered by a bullet and his father slumped over.
Police found traffic surveillance video of the shooter's SUV and tracked it to an Arden Hills veterinary hospital. That facility's security video showed the driver wearing a white shirt with a strap across his chest.
On July 23, a towing company told police it had impounded the vehicle. Investigators learned it had been rented by a woman in April and later reported stolen when it wasn't returned.
Police also found video of Smith on his Facebook page that resembled the suspect in the surveillance video
After Smith's arrest, Boughton's brother-in-law, Stephen Robinson, told WCCO Radio that authorities told the family that the SUV's driver wanted to move into the right lane, but Boughton gave a shrug toward the SUV before being shot.
Plymouth Police Chief Erik Fadden has said there was more than one person in the SUV, but he declined to say how many. According to the charges, two other people are under investigation, but no additional arrests have been announced.
The police chief has declined to call Boughton's death a case of road rage but rather "some sort of traffic altercation." However, two experts in human behavior who have reviewed the public court filings and news media accounts said the shooting was a clear act of road rage.
"This is somebody who was clearly very, very angry and behaved in an impulsive manner," said Dr. Mark Reinecke, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "It's a pretty classic case of road rage."
Reinecke said the rage appears to have been prompted by a misreading of Boughton's gesture toward someone in another vehicle.
"It's a whole set of cognitive and emotional processes that lead a person when they are frustrated, and they feel threatened and become enraged," he said. "And I suspect that's what happened here."
Dr. Darshan Mehta, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said he puts the shooting "on a very extreme level" when considering the various forms that road rage takes.
"This is a fight response here," said Mehta, whose areas of expertise include behavioral change. "To have someone have the action of pulling out a gun … the fight response overrides any ability to really think about the consequences of their action."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482