Joshua Daniel Smith will return Friday to court after a second delay to secure an attorney for the Sacramento man suspected of killing two men who were shot and set on fire last June near Roseville.
Along with the murder charges, Smith also faces allegations of committing the crimes in service to a criminal street gang, using a gun and laying in wait - the latter giving Placer County prosecutors the option of seeking the death penalty. Smith appeared in Placer Superior Court Tuesday in Auburn.
Placer County District Attorney's prosecutors allege Smith, 38, is a Norteno gang member and shot Jason John Benson, 33, and Warren Alexander Galsote, 34, in the head on rural Annabelle Avenue between Roseville and Granite Bay June 25, 2015, before soaking the still-alive men with gasoline and setting them ablaze.
Prosecutors say Smith targeted Galsote because he had witnessed a crime. The men later died at an area hospital.
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Defense attorney Martin Jones of Ciummo & Associates, the county's Madera-based public defense contractor, initially called for a week's delay at Smith's first appearance on Monday. Jones said the firm had reached the negotiated limit of homicide cases its attorneys are able to accept in Placer County.
But Placer Superior Court Judge Angus Saint-Evens ordered the parties back to his Placer County Jail courtroom on Tuesday where the judge appointed Jones until another attorney is selected to represent Smith in the potential capital case.
Smith has been held without bail in Auburn since his arrest last Thursday at Sacramento County Main Jail, where he had been held on other charges since July, according to Placer County Sheriff's officials.
Sacramento Superior Court records show Smith has been in and out of Sacramento County custody for more than two decades, arrested nearly a dozen times on offenses ranging from burglary to auto theft and assault.
A no-bail warrant for his arrest was issued by Placer County in February, sheriff’s officials said.