Convicted rapist found guilty in murder-for-hire plot targeting judge, prosecutor
Jimmie Smith already is serving a 110-year sentence for kidnapping and raping 4 women in 2009.
A convicted rapist was found guilty Thursday of attempting to hire a hitman to kill the judge and prosecutor who originally handled his case.
Jimmie Smith was caught plotting to rub out Cook County Judge James Linn and Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Papa in 2014, as his trial date for the kidnapping and rape of four women neared. Smith had enlisted a fellow jail inmate in his plan, who set Smith up to meet with an undercover sheriff’s deputy posing as a killer-for-hire nicknamed “Big Moe.”
Smith, who ended up pleading guilty in the rape and kidnapping case in 2016 — after Linn was taken off the case — sat calmly beside his attorneys, studying the faces of the jurors as they were polled by the clerk. Smith already is serving a 110-year prison sentence in the rape case.
Leaving the courtroom after shaking hands with the team of special prosecutors who handled the case, Papa was reluctant to comment.
“Usually, I’m on the other side,” as a prosecutor, not a victim, she said. “Obviously, I’m satisfied with the verdict.”
In closing arguments, Special Prosecutor Andrew Porter said Smith had an “odd fixation” on the veteran prosecutor, noting that personal information including her home address was found among records in Smith’s cell just last year. Jurors were told that Smith was convicted of four rapes he committed in 2009 but did not hear that he had since been charged with attacking jail guards, and for stabbing his public defender in the face and neck with a shank.
Asked if threats from criminal defendants were a standard part of the job for a prosecutor, Papa winced.
“Not like this,” she said. “I can’t even describe it.”
Smith took the witness stand Wednesday and claimed that his recorded conversations with “Big Moe” were part of an elaborate plot he concocted with the fellow inmate who snitched on him, Quinton Davis.
Smith wanted a new judge and prosecutor on his case, and Davis was facing a 45-year sentence for murder and needed a gambit he could offer prosecutors to cut a plea deal. Davis, Smith said, suggested Smith pretend to be seeking a contract killer for Linn and Papa, and Davis would reveal the plot to jail guards. Davis would get a sweetheart plea deal, and Papa and Linn would have to be recused from Smith’s case — and Davis would sweeten the deal by putting $2,000 on Smith’s jail commissary account.
Smith’s attorney, Anthony Burch, pointed out that Smith’s commissary balance swelled from 17 cents to about $1,700 as Smith began talking with Big Moe on the phone and in a pair of meetings in the jail visiting room.
“They said he wants to hire a hitman, (so) why is all the money coming to (Smith)?” Burch said.
Porter pointed out that Smith never told investigators the plan was a hoax, even after Davis pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge that cut his prison sentence to around 12 years — and became the star witness against Smith.
“That’s the story (Smith) wants you to believe, and it’s a whopper,” Porter said. “That man was caught red-handed, on tape, four different times, and five years later, that’s the story.”