Murder suspect Smith dies in jail

Roark David Smith

Murder suspect Roark David Smith, 53, was found dead in his single-occupancy cell about 5 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, by a corrections officer.

Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley said emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities but Smith was already dead upon their arrival. He said a preliminary investigation has not determined a cause of death but no indication was found of foul play or suicide.

An autopsy was scheduled for 1 p.m. today.

Smith was being treated for diabetes and also had a small brain tumor that was scheduled to be surgically removed, although court records indicate that medical experts did not believe it to be immediately life threatening. Smith had been scheduled to stand trial Feb. 5 for charges of burglary and aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of Patti Hong, 46, and her son, Randy Hong, 23, at their home on Feb. 25, 2009.

The death penalty trial was expected to extend six weeks. About 500 potential jurors had been summoned while pre-trial motions were being decided.

Last week, Smith’s attorney, William Falls, was denied a motion to have the trial dismissed because his client has been diagnosed with delusional disorder. In December of 2011, a judge ruled that Smith was capable of assisting in his own defense because he understood the nature of the charges against him and the potential consequences.

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