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A family still waiting for justice - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A family still waiting for justice

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MONTREAL -

The Smith family says they're concerned about aging evidence in the case and the availability of witnesses.

Kathleen Smith was brutally murdered nearly seven years ago. She was a single mom with one son. In all these years, we've never heard from him. That's because he's never talked to the United States media. Until last week, when he invited WCAX to Montreal and into his apartment for his side of the story.

Everywhere you look in Jake Smith's apartment there's a reminder of his mom. 

"I used to feel like a big dork for saying this but I'm a total Mama's boy," said Jake. 

There's a kitchen table from his childhood, weird knick-knacks, photographs and paintings.

"This was the last painting she was working on," said Jake.

A pear that never got painted.
   
Jake's mom, Kathleen Smith, was murdered in 2010. The Burlington social worker was tied up and stabbed in her home. She was 50. Jake was 25. 

He tells me it's tricky when people ask what happened to the guy who killed her. 

"I usually just kind of lie, and say well he's locked up, which is sort of true," said Jake. 

Jose Pazos is living in a state psychiatric hospital. His mental competency has been debated for years. He denied the premeditated murder and kidnap of Kathleen Smith. He's been through four lawyers in seven years.

"They've essentially allowed someone who clearly has mental difficulties to declare to the court that he's just going to fire this lawyer and fire that lawyer and fire that lawyer and at some point someone needs to be like, 'dude, no. Too bad. You murdered someone. You need to stand trial for that now,'" said Jake.

Police say the motive for murder was a grudge. We found out Kathleen's best friend had a child with him. Jake says his mom tried to help that friend escape the abusive relationship and helped her get custody of the couple's little girl. That allegedly set Pazos' off.

"He always was a pretty intense guy. It was weird finding out it was him. Maya and I, his daughter, we are actually extremely close," said Jake.

They remain close today. Both have struggled emotionally since Kathleen's death. Early onm Jake's nightmares kept him up. He needed reminders to eat. He gave up his music students and stopped touring with his band. It was years before he could even look at a photograph of his mom without falling apart.

"I don't know if you ever lost someone, but that's not how grief works. It's always there. It changes. and you change with it," said Jake.

Jake avoids the courtroom and leans on his aunt for most of the legal stuff. But even on his saddest days he says he doesn't wish Vermont had the death penalty. He doesn't wish this man any harm, but does believe there should be consequences. 

"And I don't care what your mental state is, if you spend all that time planning a murder and then you execute what is arguably on of the most brutal murders to happen in Vermont, in as long as I can remember, then you deserve to go to prison. Does he also deserve psychiatric help? Absolutely. But he deserves that psychiatric help behind bars," said Smith.

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