Amsterdam man charged with murderof cellmate

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An Amsterdam man charged with murdering his cellmate at the Jefferson County Jail is claiming insanity as his defense. 

Ronald D. Smith, whose address is listed as Cricket St., Amsterdam, entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea during an arraignment hearing Feb. 14 in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. Bond was set at $1 million.  Attorney Steven A. Stickles was appointed to represent Smith in all further proceedings. The case was assigned to Judge Michelle G. Miller.

A new case, which was handwritten on a lined sheet of paper, was filed in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Feb. 1 listing the name of Ronald D. Smith with his address. The offense listed one count of murder and one count of strangulation. Oct 18, 2023, was listed as the date the offense occurred.  A Jefferson County grand jury returned an indictment Feb. 7 for one count of murder.

A news release issued by Sheriff Fred Abdalla following the indictment noted the victim was Daniel Drake, 42, of Steubenville.

The release noted the date the incident took place Oct. 18 while both men were incarcerated in the jail. 

“We have released Mr. Drake’s name after conversation with his family and offer them our sincere condolences. We further ask that people be compassionate as the family mourns their loss,” the statement read.

An employee at the Jefferson County Detention facility said Smith was in jail on a probation violation at the time the alleged murder occurred. 

She was unsure what the original charge was that created the probation violation, but stated Smith was charged with Public Intoxication and Possession of Drug Abuse Instruments in 2017 and was found guilty of Domestic Violence June 19, 2023, and served a 21-day jail sentence.

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