ST. JOHN, La. -- While police add new charges to some of those accused in last week’s fatal attack on St. John Parish deputies, Eyewitness News has learned this wasn’t the first arrest in the parish for one of the suspects.
In fact suspect Terry Smith, the father of one of the alleged shooters, had a warrant out for his arrest at the time of the shooting. His allegiance to the Sovereign Citizens movement also surfaced during his earlier run in with the law.
Smith’s trouble with the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office began more than three years before last week’s fatal killing of two deputies and the wounding of two others.
Smith was arrested in February 2009 for not obeying an officer at Airline Highway and Terre Haute Road in Reserve.
According to the arrest report, he got into an argument with an officer who was directing traffic at the intersection and he refused to change lanes when ordered to do so.
Smith was also reportedly driving on a suspended license.
Shortly after the arrest, he filed a barrage of documents with the district attorney’s office and parish court.
Smith invoked his sovereign citizenship stating that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and traffic court is accustomed to trampling on people’s rights.
“Their arguments are we are a common people, we are ruled by the common law. They have created their own official looking documents and some of them look damn real," said Vincenzo Sainato, a Loyola criminology professor.
Smith also demanded a parish grand jury hear his claims that the officers who arrested him, among other things, lacked jurisdiction and violated the constitution, then carjacked and kidnapped him.
In July 2009, Smith was found guilty of disobeying a police officer and was ordered to pay a $100 fine and $128 in court costs.
According to court records, Smith never paid the fines and an attachment was issued for his arrest.
Smith is now accused of being a principal to attempted first-degree murder.
He will likely face other charges when state police conclude their investigation into the St. John shootings.