Hearing set in 2020 capital murder case

Mar. 17—A mental competency hearing scheduled in a Hunt County courtroom this month may determine whether a man charged with killing two sisters in Commerce three years ago will stand trial.

An attorney for defendant Jacques Dshawn Smith is seeking to have evidence in the case thrown out, claiming Smith's constitutional rights were violated during an investigation into the murders.

Defense counsel Jessica McDonald has argued that Smith is not mentally competent to stand trial in connection with the Feb. 4, 2020, deaths of Abbaney Matts and her sister Deja on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus.

McDonald's motion claimed that investigators interrogating Smith following his arrest violated his Miranda Warning under the Fifth Amendment. McDonald claims Smith has an "intellectual disability" which makes him unable to understand his rights against potential self-incrimination. McDonald claims Smith has a "Full Scale IQ of 57."

A review hearing on McDonald's motion is scheduled March 27 in the 196th District Court before Judge Andrew Bench. A trial has been set to start June 5.

Smith, 24, remains in custody at the Hunt County Detention Center in lieu of $2 million bond. Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker Jr. has waived the death penalty if Smith is found guilty, in which case he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Smith, who reportedly was the ex-boyfriend of Abbaney Matts, was taken into custody in Rowlett after an arrest warrant was issued in connection with the double homicide in Commerce. During a search of the Rowlett residence, evidence turned up that allegedly connected Smith and two others to an earlier homicide case out of Denton.

Smith and two other Rowlett residents, Jalin Hargrove and Earnest Rogers, are accused of capital murder in connection with the death of Steven Daniels on Dec. 31, 2019. He has pleaded not guilty to that allegation.

Smith also faces aggravated robbery and evading arrest charges from Dallas County. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

McDonald's motion argues that any statements made by Smith and/or any of his co-defendants should be thrown out and not used as evidence should a trial proceed as scheduled.