‘Narcissist’ killer Jessica Smith sentenced to life in prison

Jessica Smith sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after 40 years

Jessica Smith was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years for killing her 2-year-old daughter and slashing her teen. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Jessica Smith will spend at least 40 years in prison after being sentenced Thursday morning for killing her 2-year-old and slashing her teenage daughter in a Cannon Beach motel in 2014.

Smith, who changed her plea to guilty on August 17, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years — the exact recommendation Clatsop County Prosecutor Josh Marquis made.

Convicted murderer Jessica Smith's husband, Greg Smith, was in court for her sentencing, August 25, 2016. (KOIN)
Convicted murderer Jessica Smith’s husband, Greg Smith, was in court for her sentencing, August 25, 2016. (KOIN)

Jessica Smith, 42, made no acknowledgement of her family or of any regret for her crimes when the judge handed down the sentence.

The sentencing began with a video montage of photos and clips of Isabella, the toddler daughter Smith murdered that day two years ago.

Isabella’s father Greg Smith then spoke.

He addressed Jessica directly, not to express hate or disappointment, but instead to express hope for his family’s future, even wishing Jessica peace in her path forward.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis cited two reasons the prosecution decided to reach a plea agreement: 1) cases involving the death penalty take a great deal of time, which would be painful for the family; and 2) to avoid forcing Smith’s teenage daughter from having to testify about the time her mother tried to kill her.

“We had to balance out the degree of finality that a plea and waiving her appeal rights versus going to trial and probably getting a tougher sentence,” Marquis said.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis speaks during Jessica Smith's sentencing, August 25, 2016. (KOIN)
Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis speaks during Jessica Smith’s sentencing, August 25, 2016. (KOIN)

While Marquis said he’s pleased the Smith family can now move forward and continue to heal, he was very clear in his feelings that Jessica Smith probably deserved an even harsher sentence.

“The natural reaction that everybody has is ‘Oh, she must be insane.’ She’s not, trust me,” Marquis said. “She’s been looked at by at least 3 or 4 psychologists and psychiatrists. She’s a narcissist.”

When delivering the sentence, Judge Julie Frantz emphasized that there was no chance for any time of sentence shortening for things like good behavior—guaranteeing Jessica Smith won’t be in front of a parole board until at least 2054.

The case

KOIN 6 News learned Jessica Smith and her husband were going through a divorce.

The Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach, August 1, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach, August 1, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The family lived in Goldendale, Washington since 2006. Former neighbors told KOIN 6 News they had concerns over Jessica Smith’s mental stability.

Police said Jessica Smith drove her children to a resort in Cannon Beach before her husband prepared to seek custody of the children.

Housekeepers at the Surfsand Motel used their master key card to access Jessica Smith’s room around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2014. A voice inside the room told them to go away, according to court records.

The staff became concerned after they heard someone slip and fall. Crews from Cannon Beach fire arrived about 10 minutes later. The response was treated as a medical emergency.

Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn said Assistant Fire Chief Frank Swedenborg “asked if someone inside needs help. He heard a faint, ‘No.’”

He said they had to gain entry because the housekeepers could only open the door to the room several inches, limited by a sliding deadbolt.

Schermerhorn, in his police uniform, went into the room first, with Swedenborg right behind. He saw 2 people laying on the bed.

Cannon Beach Police Capt. Jason Schermerhorn testifies in the pre-trial hearing for Jessica Smith, July 6, 2016 (KOIN)
Cannon Beach Police Capt. Jason Schermerhorn testifies in the pre-trial hearing for Jessica Smith, July 6, 2016 (KOIN)

“The infant on the left-hand side of the bed, the other young lady on the right hand side. The infant was somewhat propped up,” Swedenborg said on tape. “I went directly to the infant.”

“(The teenager) also looked very ashen, very gray, and I noticed cuts to each side of her neck.”

Schermerhorn said he saw different piles of linens that “appeared to be covered in blood.”

“There was a large amount of blood in the bathroom that I had seen on the linens,” Schermerhorn said. And then he said he saw the baby and the teen.

The teen was airlifted to a Portland area hospital for treatment of cuts.

Jessica Smith was not in the motel room when they entered. She was arrested days later when the US Coast Guard Sector Columbia River spotted her on a logging road in a heavily forested area 15 miles from Cannon Beach.

The medical examiner’s report

Jessica Smith, facing charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, at a court appearance on Jan. 22, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Jessica Smith, facing charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, at a court appearance on Jan. 22, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

The toddler, Isabella, drowned, but a sedating drug was a contributing factor, Medical Examiner Karen Gunson said. Isabella had “intoxicating levels” of chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine found in cough syrup and cold medicines.

She died from asphyxiation by drowning, Gunson said, but the drug was a factor.

There was an unusually high amount of antihistamine in her system, and toxicology samples were sent to a second lab for confirmation.

The toddler’s 13-year-old sister was not charged in the death even though it appears she helped her mother, officials said.

At a pre-trial hearing earlier this summer, prosecutors shared previously unseen footage of investigators interviewing Smith when she was initially arrested.

In the video, Smith said she intended to “drown her [daughter] and her misery.” She said Isabella “just fell asleep peacefully, went into the water and was gone.”

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