Caldwell man enters Alford plea, denies plans to murder son
A Caldwell man agreed to an Alford plea deal in court Tuesday, admitting a jury would likely find him guilty of assault with intent to commit a felony.
Dale Ivan Smith, 80, was arrested in November after he was found outside his son Bryan Smith’s house with several guns and 15 pineapple grenades. Smith was charged with multiple felonies including attempted murder. The charges were dismissed or reduced as part of a plea agreement. Bryan Smith is an Idaho Falls attorney and a prominent local Republican who challenged Rep. Mike Simpson for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2014.
When District Judge Bruce Pickett asked Dale Smith to confirm he was pleading guilty, the defendant hesitated before saying yes. Dale Smith said he did not intend to murder his son and only wanted to scare him.
Dale Smith told the judge that when he arrived at his son’s house, no one was home. He said Bryan Smith pulled in as he was heading back to his car. He said that if he had wanted to kill his son, he could have done so then, before police arrived.
“I went to his house after all he had done to my wife and I,” Dale Smith said. “I was moving to Utah and I went (to Bryan Smith’s house) with a loaded firearm, but it was to scare him, not to murder him.”
The animosity between father and son dates back to November 2016 when Bryan Smith took over guardianship of his mother. Dale Smith had attempted to remove his wife from a hospital and take her home, prompting his son to stop him. Bryan Smith took his mother to an elderly care center, preventing his father from having contact with her.
The family dispute escalated until Dale Smith began telling people he was going to kill his son. Dale Smith’s lawyer contacted Bryan Smith to warn him about the threats.
“This is the culmination of a year’s worth of threats and conduct,” Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark said.
Clark said the combination of threats preceding Dale Smith appearing at his son’s house with a gun made Bryan Smith afraid for his life. Clark read some of the statements Dale Smith made, including in a letter addressed to Dale Smith’s wife that was found in his car.
“By now you will know something has happened to Bryan,” the letter said. “I’m sorry, but it had to be done.”
Dale Smith said he wrote the letter in March 2016, and that it had not been part of his plan. He said he had planned to throw it and the pineapple grenades into the Snake River, but couldn’t because workers would have seen him. He said he had talked to his wife about killing Bryan Smith.
“She said if (I) kill him, then I will lose her in the Celestial Kingdom,” Dale Smith said. “Why I didn’t destroy the letter, I don’t know.”
Assault with intent to commit a serious felony is punishable with up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 28 in Bonneville County Courthouse.