Joplin man to stand trial in assault, robbery of roommate

Aug. 28—A judge decided last week that there is probable cause for a 40-year-old Joplin man to stand trial on charges that he assaulted and robbed his roommate and subsequently assaulted another inmate at the Jasper County Jail.

Associate Judge Joseph Hensley ordered Donald L. Smith Jr. to stand trial on counts of second-degree robbery and third-degree assault following testimony at a preliminary hearing Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court. The judge set Smith's initial appearance in a trial division for Sept. 25.

A probable-cause affidavit states that Smith got into an argument with his roommate, Donald E. Corbin, 59, on July 1 in the backyard of a residence near their own residence at 2124 S. Sergeant Ave. Corbin told police that when Smith started toward him, he pulled out a gun to protect himself and told Smith to step down.

Corbin said he pointed the gun in the air to fire it as a warning and the gun jammed, giving Smith an opportunity to knock him to the ground, and begin hitting him multiple times on his head and face.

Smith, according to accounts, took the gun away from Corbin and ran to their residence as police arrived on the scene. When Smith refused to come out, a SWAT team was called to the scene and he was taken into custody. The affidavit states that police recovered the handgun at the address where the two men lived.

The assault charge pertains to an incident two weeks later at the jail. Smith got into an argument with his cellmate and punched him in the nose, according to the affidavit filed with that charge.