Columbia man charged with murder in Ste. Genevieve

Curtis L. Smith’s hearing is set for March 5.

Curtis L. Smith, 52, of Columbia was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday in Ste. Genevieve County in relation to the Nov. 17 death of his girlfriend, 52-year-old Kristi Murphy.

At a news conference in November, Ste. Genevieve Chief of Police Eric Bennett said officers discovered Murphy’s body in a room at Microtel Inn after following up on a reported suicide. Smith told the responding officers Murphy had hanged herself with a shower curtain.

Bennett was unavailable for comment.

According to the Missouri Courts website, Smith was previously charged with second-degree murder. In relation to Murphy’s death, Smith was also charged with armed criminal action, theft of a credit card and possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana.

After he was convicted of fatally shooting a woman in a motel room in Springfield in 1984, Smith received a lifetime sentence but was released on parole in March 2010.

According to the Ste. Genevieve police's news conference, Smith and Murphy met in November at University Hospital in Columbia. Smith was being treated for post-traumatic stress and thoughts of homicide. Murphy was being treated for depression and suicidal tendencies.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, increasing alcohol and/or other drug use, giving away prized possessions and taking unnecessary risks are among the warning signs of suicide.

Smith is currently being held in the Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Center in Bonne Terre. His court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 5 at the Division 3 Courtroom in Ste. Genevieve. Timothy W. Inman will be the presiding judge.

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