EBENSBURG – A Johnstown man accused of ordering the 2015 murder of a confidential informant had his trial postponed again on Tuesday.
Judge Patrick T. Kiniry rescheduled jury selection for the trial of Shakir Mosi Smith Sr., who faces a single charge of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder, for a to-be-decided date in June. It had been scheduled for April.
Smith, 42, who appeared in court by video from Somerset County Jail, maintained his innocence and complained that his civil liberties are being violated by repeated continuances in his case. His trial had previously been postponed after his first attorney, Richard Corcoran, was taken off the case due to a conflict; that continuance was meant to give his new attorney, Tim Burns, time to review discovery evidence.
“I don’t want any more continuances,” Smith said. “I’ve been ready for over a year. … There’s nothing in the discovery that will make me any more guilty than I was three, four years ago.”
All jury trials in Pennsylvania, both criminal and civil, have been suspended by a March 18 "judicial emergency" order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court meant to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The order is effective at least through April 3.
“We’re in uncharted territory here,” Burns said during Tuesday’s hearing.
Investigators from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General have named Smith as the leader of a “mob” based in Johnstown’s Prospect section and accused him of ordering the murder of Carol Ashcom, 30, who was found shot to death on March. 11, 2015, inside her Lower Yoder Township home.
Ashcom was working as a confidential informant for the Office of Attorney General when she bought narcotics from Smith at an Ihmsen Avenue home in April 2014. Search warrants were executed at that home days later, and Smith was arrested in New Jersey on May 7.
Investigators allege Smith ordered Ashcom’s murder from behind bars because he suspected that Ashcom was acting as a confidential informant and that her cooperation with law enforcement was key to the case against him.
Smith is accused of expressing his desire to have Ashcom killed in letters he sent from jail to his children and to other members of his organization. In a letter from jail postmarked two weeks before Ashcom’s death, investigators said, Smith instructed his son, Shakir Smith Jr., to show his nephew, Mizzon “Los” Grandinetti, where Ashcom lived.
Nobody has officially been charged with killing Ashcom.