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Colorado man gets decades in prison for murdering wife after claiming she attacked him with butcher knife

Scott Lee Smith (JCSO)

Scott Lee Smith (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office)

A 47-year-old Colorado man will spend decades behind bars for killing his wife. A state judge in Jefferson County on Wednesday ordered Scott Lee Smith to serve a 30-year sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections for fatally shooting his wife, 47-year-old Kanokwan “Nok” Smith, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.

According to a press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a 911 call on Nov. 1, 2020, regarding a possible shooting at a residence located in the 5400 block of West Ottawa Avenue. The caller — later identified as Smith — told the dispatcher that he had shot and killed his wife in self-defense because she was trying to “kill him with a butcher knife.”

Upon arriving at the address, first responders located the body of Kanokwan Smith, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kanokwan Nok Smith (via KUSA screenshot)

Kanokwan Nok Smith (via KUSA screenshot)

Authorities initially arrested Scott Smith at the scene of his wife’s death and charged him with one count of first-degree murder, but he was released several days later after prosecutors in the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office said there was a lack of evidence to support criminal charges. Smith maintained that he was acting in self-defense.

Public court records also showed that Scott Smith had filed for divorce only a few weeks before the shooting.

JCSO detectives continued to investigate the circumstances of Kanokwan Smith’s death, and 10 months following the fatal shooting, investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Scott Smith. He was taken into custody for a second time and again charged with first-degree murder as well as domestic violence and tampering with evidence.

“The DA’s office wanted more evidence; any DA’s office is probably a little reluctant to prosecute unless they feel like there’s enough evidence to win their case,” JCSO Director of Public Affairs Jenny Fulton said in a statement to in 2021. “So they requested that we continue our efforts and if we were able to develop a stronger case, then they would consider prosecution again.”

Additionally, Smith’s mother, Theresa Rino, was arrested several days after her son and charged with being an accessory to a crime, attempt to commit tampering with physical evidence, and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence.

“We worked the case very hard, and we were able to get it to a point where the DA’s office is comfortable enough bringing charges against Scott Smith and his mom,” Fulton reportedly said. “We believe that [Rino] helped Scott conceal or dispose of evidence.”

Theresa Rino (JCSO)

Theresa Rino (JCSO)

It is unclear what additional evidence investigators obtained, but Scott Smith last month pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and also agreed to a sentencing enhancement for committing a violent crime causing death or serious bodily injury.

His mother is scheduled to appear in court again on March 10. It is unclear if she has entered a plea.

In an email to Law&Crime, a spokesperson for the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office said that a press release on the case will be issued Thursday afternoon.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.