The retrial is underway for a man who offered sex with his pregnant wife for money but then shot and killed a man who responded to the online ad.
Timothy Smith, 34, was previously convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kurt Milliman at Smith’s Woodstock-area home, but he was granted a new trial on appeal.
According to authorities and testimony, Milliman responded to a Craigslist ad placed by Smith and made arrangements with Smith to come to his house in May 2011.
An argument ensued after Kimberly Smith decided she didn’t want to go forward with the transaction, prompting Milliman to grab her arm and slap her, authorities said. That prompted Timothy Smith, who was secretly watching the encounter, to intervene, at which point Milliman was shot in the back.
At his first trial in 2013, Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
At his sentencing, Smith told Milliman’s relatives: “I pray you find it in your hearts to forgive me.” Milliman’s niece had testified that he was “the rock in our family.”
But Smith’s conviction was overturned in 2015 by an appeals court that ruled the jury in his original trial should have been given the option of an involuntary manslaughter verdict.
Jury selection for his retrial began Monday, but then Smith chose instead to have a judge decide his case. Judge Sharon Prather, who oversaw the first trial, will decide if Smith is not guilty or if he’s guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.
Smith’s lawyers have argued that he didn’t set out to kill Milliman and that the gun “just went off.”
The Smiths initially claimed that Milliman was an intruder. Kimberly Smith pleaded guilty to filing a false police report to that effect and received probation. The couple has divorced.
On Tuesday, Kimberly Smith, who remarried and is now Kimberly Niccolai, took the stand but said she remembered little from that night. Prosecutor Mick Combs repeatedly prompted her by referring to her 2013 testimony. Niccolai often took long pauses between answers and appeared at times to be nodding off.
She did acknowledge that Milliman was there for “a sexual encounter” and was asked if she recalled Smith yelling at Milliman to “get your hands off my wife” before the gun went off.
Prosecutors also played a recording of the 911 call the couple placed where both claimed they were victims of a home invasion.
An investigator also took the stand to explain how he found the Craigslist ad on the Smiths’ computer.
Milliman, 48, was the owner of the Dirty Hog Saloon in Island Lake, formerly worked for the McHenry County sheriff’s office and ran for county board in 2008 as a Republican.
Amanda Marrazzo is a freelance reporter.