King County prosecutors have charged a 40-year-old Renton man for the Aug. 9 murder of a 70-year-old Renton woman, the man’s mother.
Prosecutors charged Walter Martin Smith with murder in the first degree for the death of Kathleen A. Smith, stating Smith committed the murder with premeditated intent, according to prosecutorial documents.
According to documents, after attacking and murdering his mother with a knife, Walter Smith headed to his home next door and changed out of his bloody clothes. He walked back outside and watched as police responded to find Kathleen Smith’s body.
The murder serves as the sixth homicide in Renton in 2023, said Renton Police Chief Jon Schuldt at a public safety committee meeting.
On Aug. 9, a neighbor in the 11800 block of Southeast 188th Street called police at approximately 7:08 p.m. after seeing Kathleen Smith lying at the front step of her house, covered in blood. The caller’s son reported hearing screaming in the area 15 minutes prior.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, law enforcement arrived at the scene to find Kathleen Smith with multiple knife wounds to her face and severe cuts to her neck “so severe that it appeared the spine was the only thing keeping the head attached to the body.”
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the death as a homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries of the neck, according to an email.
A sergeant arriving at the scene stated he saw Walter Smith — at the time unidentified — standing “apparently unconcerned” to the west of the driveway, according to an affidavit of probable cause. A search of Kathleen Smith’s home showed trails of blood leading from her bedroom to the front porch.
According to the initial autopsy, the severity of the neck injuries Kathleen Smith suffered would have prevented her from walking from the bedroom to the porch, indicating Walter Smith fatally assaulted his mother a second time on the front porch after she walked from an initial assault in her bedroom.
Police discovered a hunting knife covered in blood in the grass near where Walter Smith watched as law enforcement arrived. A search of Walter Smith’s next door home revealed blood leading into the living room from the front door and various blood-stained items.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, police arrested Walter Smith in the driveway of Kathleen Smith’s home.
“Is he bleeding from somewhere?” asked a sergeant in video footage of the arrest, according to the affidavit.
“No. It’s her blood,” Walter Smith responded.
Police interviewed a friend of Kathleen Smith’s who was talking to her on the phone at the time of the attack.
The friend advised police she heard Kathleen Smith scream, “Walter, no!” prior to hearing “blood-curdling screams for the next 90 seconds.”
According to prosecutorial documents, Walter Smith holds an open felony case in King County Superior Court for residential burglary and assault, in addition to multiple prior convictions. He was out of custody at the time of Kathleen Smith’s death after posting bail.
The King County Superior Court set Walter Smith’s bail at $5 million at his first appearance hearing on Aug. 10, as per prosecutorial request. The court scheduled Walter Smith’s arraignment for Aug. 24.