At the same time the Kyle Rittenhouse trial is expected to be underway at the Kenosha County Courthouse, a second homicide trial is also scheduled to go before a jury.
Roderick Smith is charged with killing his girlfriend Gia Buccieri-Martin, alleged to have shot her, then hid her body in their apartment while reporting her missing to Kenosha Police. Buccieri-Martin’s body was found in a garbage can outside Smith’s home weeks after she was reported missing.
Smith, 40, is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 9 during what is expected to be the second week of the Rittenhouse trial. At a recent pretrial hearing, Judge Jason Rossell told the attorneys involved in the case that due to the expected interest in the Rittenhouse trial and the heightened security expected for that case, the Smith trial may have to be moved to another location.
Rossell told attorneys the Smith trial may be held at the Kenosha County Center in Bristol. A large meeting room at that facility was used for trials earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic to allow jurors to have more space for social distancing.
The judge said the issue of the location of the Smith trial will likely be decided at a jury status hearing scheduled for Oct. 28.
Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with homicide and attempted homicide for shooting three men, killing two, during protest and rioting that followed the Jacob Blake shooting by a Kenosha Police officer in August 2020. Rittenhouse and his supporters maintain the shootings were in self defense.
The Rittenhouse case has drawn international focus, with opinion divided sharply along political fault lines, and the trial scheduled to begin Nov. 1 is expected to drawn intense media coverage and possible protest.
At the Smith trial hearing last week, Rossell ruled on a series of prosecution motions seeking to have previous allegations of domestic violence or threats between Smith and other women admitted at the trial. Rossell denied all but one of those instances, saying they were too dissimilar to the allegations in the Buccieri-Martin homicide.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, Smith allegedly killed Martin with a shotgun on Jan. 25, then attempted to deceive both her family and police with a story that she had disappeared after going out at night. While he was telling family members he was helping with their search, he allegedly kept Buccieri-Martin’s body hidden at the apartment they shared, 5120 14th Ave.
Buccieri-Martin’s family was apparently suspicious about Smith’s role in Buccieri-Martin’s disappearance both because he had a history of domestic violence convictions with other women, and because Buccieri-Martin allegedly had told family members Smith had beaten her in the past.
Members of the family went to the 14th Avenue apartment on Feb. 13 looking for information, and reported to police that there was an “awful smell” in the apartment and a collection of cleaning supplies, gloves and garbage bags in a bedroom.
After getting that information from the family, police went to the apartment the same day to speak with Smith. At first, according to court documents, Smith sat at the kitchen table and told officers he was worried about his girlfriend and that he had been out distributing missing person posters. “I just want to know where my girl is,” he told the officers.
But while Smith spoke of his search for his Buccieri-Martin, police officers at the apartment were confronted with the smell of “rotting flesh.”
The smell was strong in the apartment, according to a criminal complaint, especially in the bedroom Smith and Buccieri-Martin shared. But it was stronger in the yard near the street.
Outside, officers removed the lid from a garbage can near the street and “observed a decomposing human body that was hunched over, face down.
Smith is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse, along with obstructing police and possession of a firearm by a felon.
According to the criminal complaint, Smith is alleged to have shot Buccieri-Martin in the back with a shotgun on Jan. 25, then hid her body in the bedroom before moving her body to the garbage can when he believed the smell became noticeable.
At the hearing last week, Smith’s attorney Scott Anderson indicated that the defense will argue that the shooting was accidental.