Trial date set for sales manager indicted in Daktronics sales intern’s murder

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

The trial for the man charged with strangling Daktronics Sales Intern Jason Shephard on September 18, 2006, is now set to begin Tuesday, October 30, 2007.

William F. Smithson, 42, a sales manager at a Daktronics facility in Edgemont, Pa., is charged with 13 crimes surrounding the death of Shephard, who was in Pennsylvania on a trip for the company. These charges include first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, criminal attempted rape, unauthorized administration of an intoxicant and abuse of a corpse.

The original trial date was set for June 12. However, it was delayed until October 30 at the defense’s request. A gag order is in effect, prohibiting attorneys or others involved in the case from commenting.

During Shephard’s visit to Pennsylvania, Smithson, who in 2005 completed anger management classes after charges were filed for simple assault and harassment, was supposed to show the young man around.

Shephard’s body was found in Smithson’s home on September 21, wrapped in bed sheets and belts, according to court documents. None of Shephard’s clothing was found. The coroner found defensive wounds on his left hand and right forearm and other injuries consistent with being struck by a fist.

Smithson is accused of slipping the “date-rape” drug Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) into Shephard’s drink Monday night, September 18, 2006. Then, after Shephard resisted Smithson’s sexual advances, Smithson allegedly beat and strangled him.

Because the killing was committed during the commission of two other felonies, namely attempted rape and kidnapping, the District Attorney’s office is able to seek capital punishment in the case.