Earlier this month, social worker Stephanie Ross died after allegedly being slashed multiple times with a large butcher knife by Dade City resident Lucious Smith. Ross was visiting with Smith to help him manage his Medicaid benefits. She had visited him on three prior occasions and there are conflicting reports as to whether she reported feeling unsafe on those visits.
Witnesses told police that Ross ran screaming from the apartment on her final visit, with Smith chasing her and slashing at her with a large butcher knife. Ninety minutes later, she died at a hospital of multiple stab wounds to her upper body.
Smith was charged with first-degree murder. He is held at the Land O’Lakes jail without bail.
Smith reportedly has a criminal history dating to 1977 when he was charged with carrying a concealed ice pick and resisting arrest. Records apparently indicate that Smith’s last arrest was in 2005 for a probation violation on a previous battery case.
In 1995, he was involved in a brawl in St. Petersburg. The officer’s report in that incident indicates that Smith ran out of an apartment waving a knife “in stabbing motion” and threatened to kill somebody. The officer drew his gun and twice ordered Smith to drop the knife before he complied. One of the witnesses described Smith in the report as “mentally disabled.”
Local police reported Smith had previously been taken into custody under the Baker Act, the state law that allows law enforcement officers to take someone for mental evaluation who appears likely to harm himself or others.
One officer also recalled an incident in which Smith was waving his arms and shouting at people as he walked in the middle of the road. Smith was reportedly hostile to the officer but ultimately got home without causing any trouble.
It seems likely that Smith’s mental state will be a consideration in his defense. Expert psychological evaluation, inspection of his medical and psychological history and consideration of the specific facts of the case are all generally involved in the consideration of mental impairment as a criminal defense.