Defense rests in Smith vs. Kremmling jury trial
DENVER — The defense rested its case Friday in the trial of Robert Mark Smith vs. Kremmling, putting an end to five days of testimony.
The day began with the completion of Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade’s testimony, and continued with another expert witness regarding Smith’s mental health.
Smith claims law enforcement officers, including two members of the Kremmling Police Department, entered his home in Kremmling illegally and used excessive force while arresting him in 2013. The lawsuit names Chief Spade, Sgt. Todd Willson, Officer Robert Dillon and the town of Kremmling as defendants.
When asked, Spade said that he has received multiple complaints about Dillon’s conduct during his time at the department, and that he had to give counseling to Dillon on his behavior. He said that complaints were about rudeness, and that he never received any complaints about excessive force about Dillon.
Spade said he was aware that Smith protested his treatment by the town of Kremmling for some time, and that Smith sent several letters to Mayor Thomas Clark, among others. In the letters, Smith said town employees were trumping up charges and selectively enforcing laws against him.
Smith owns a mobile home park in Kremmling and has received multiple citations for ordinance violations. Smith claimed other parks weren’t being punished for similar violations and asked for an investigation.
Spade said he took Smith on a ridealong as part of the investigation, and that he didn’t see any violations in other parks.
The prosecution questioned officers repeatedly throughout the trial as to why nobody, aside from Dillon, approached Smith on the night in question. Dillon and Smith have a history of confrontation. Spade replied that he believed Dillon and Smith still had a workable relationship at the time.
Dr. Stephen Moe was the last to testify in the case. Moe is a psychiatrist that was hired to evaluate Smith by the defense in 2016. Moe contradicted several points of Dr. Chad Emrick’s testimony, a psychologist who evaluated Smith on behalf of the prosecution.
Moe said that he believed Smith’s altercation with police in 2013 caused Smith increased anger, but that it didn’t cause any new conditions or exacerbate Smith’s existing depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emrick testified earlier that the 2013 incident could have been a major trigger of Smith’s PTSD, which he developed at least in part due to his experience in the Vietnam War. He also said that Smith had PTSD as a result of the altercation with police.
Emrick spent about seven and a half hours with Smith over two sessions, while Moe spoke with Smith over one three-hour session.
Moe said he reviewed Smith’s medical and mental health records dating back to 2002, and that during his session with Smith he was outraged. He said Smith wanted compensation or an apology from the police department. Moe said that Smith didn’t seem depressed, and that he was talkative and looked to the future when they spoke.
Moe said that he believed Smith’s anger stemmed from his childhood, family issues and his military service. Moe also said that he believed Smith was angry because he was drafted into Vietnam, and that he should have been working to support his family. Prosecution pointed out that Smith voluntarily enlisted in the military.
Moe said that Smith’s behavior in the three years between the 2013 incident and when he saw him were a big part of his doubts. He said that in those three years Smith had 29 medical contacts, 15 or more medical problems, but never asked for assistance regarding psychiatric symptoms related to the incident with police. He also noted that neither Smith’s medication nor dosage changed after the incident.
Moe also testified that he felt Smith was likely exaggerating symptoms with Emrick. Emrick used a structured interview of reported symptoms, or SIRS Test, on Smith to determine if he could be malingering, or faking symptoms. Emrick said that he felt Smith’s symptoms were sincere.
Moe said the SIRS Test wasn’t applicable in this situation, because Smith faced symptoms before the incident, and that the test can’t determine level of severity.
Emrick claims he contacted a colleague at the National PTSD Center who corroborated his report.
The trial will continue with closing arguments on Tuesday.
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