Monday, the jury trial began for Shakir Smith, who is charged with ordering the killing of Johnstown woman, Carol Ashcom who was shot to death in March 2015.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania called their first four witnesses to the stand. The first of which was Attorney General Office agent, Thomas Moore. Moore testified that in April of 2014, Carol Ashcom has agreed to cooperate with the Attorney General’s office to work as a confidential informant and perform “controlled buys” meaning Ashcom purchased drugs from individuals the Attorney General’s office was investigating.
According to testimonies, Ashcom made controlled buys from Smith on three separate occasions in April 2014, almost a year before her death and a month before Smith was arrested on drug related charges in June 2014. But the defendant’s attorney, Timothy Burns pointed out, Ashcom was involved in six other drug investigations while working as a confidential informant.
Burns also asked the witness, Moore if there were any extra precautions taken while Ashcom was working as a confidential informant which Moore said there were none.
Another witness who took the stand was India Snyder who says she was in a relationship with Smith for over five years, until 2015 and in constant contact with Smith while he was in jail. Snyder took the stand to testify saying Smith repeatedly talked about wanting to find out who the confidential informant was who put him behind bars for drug related charges.
The Commonwealth presented dozens of letters and phone call transcriptions between Smith, Snyder and other members of Smith’s gang which he called, “The Lynch Mob” which included Smith’s children and other family members. Snyder read and interpreted letters which were sent to her from Smith during the years 2014 and 2015. Some things in the letters were, “Carol is the rat.” Snyder says the mob is taught “Rats must die.”
Snyder also testified the “lynch mob members” were taught to talk and write in code, saying such things as to “Rhino” someone meaning to kill someone and “no face, no case,” meaning if there was no confidential informant around, there would be no case.
The trial will continue Tuesday morning with the defendant’s cross examination of Snyder.