Graham County man jailed in wife's shooting

    Fontana Heights – A  local man who escaped prosecution after shooting a neighbor two years ago is in jail for allegedly shooting his wife last week.
    James Jay Smith Sr., 79, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon on Aug. 1 by Graham County sheriff’s deputies investigating a “shots fired call.”
    “Upon arrival, officers found Brenda Smith hiding in her drive way bleeding from a gunshot wound to the hand,” Sheriff Danny Millsaps said in a statement. “James Smith, her husband, was standing in the driveway above the house armed with a shotgun and was taken into custody by deputies.”
    Smith’s wife, Brenda, was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Her condition was not known at press time Tuesday.
    Smith appeared in court in Robbinsville on Monday morning charged with assault with a deadly weapon/serious injury. Bond was set at $150,000. Murphy attorney Bill Shilling was appointed to defend Smith, who returns to court Aug. 27.
    The incident occurred almost two years to the day when Smith shot his former neighbor, Joe Shaffer, three times during a dispute over a shared driveway.
    “That makes three shootings in two years he’s been involved in,” said Joe’s wife, Kimberly. “He shot himself in June of 2016, shot my husband in July of 2016 and now he shot his wife.”
    James Smith wasn’t charged in the July 2016 altercation with his neighbor. Neither was Shaffer, who fired first and hit Smith with “one shot of snakeshot.”
    District Attorney Ashley Welch said she didn’t prosecute because an assistant district attorney assigned to Graham County advised against it. He allegedly told Welch that Smith acted in self-defense, and the sheriff agreed, so there was no case.
    Not so says Joseph Jones, then the lead investigator. On Sunday, he told The Graham Star that Smith “definitely” should have been charged. On Monday, Welch said she was “shocked” when she realized her former assistant DA misled her.
    “I will be personally reviewing the case, and we’ll come up with a game plan,” Welch said. “This was a very serious crime, and I received misinformation.”