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Unity man who threatened to kill sheriff dies

By Fran Gonzalez | May 15, 2020

Belfast —

A 51-year-old Unity man who was arrested after threatening to kill Waldo County Sheriff Jeffrey Trafton has died.

According to Trafton, David Smith attempted to hang himself Sunday morning, May 10, at Somerset County Jail in Madison. He was still alive when emergency responders took him to a Waterville hospital, Trafton said, and was later transferred to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he died Thursday morning.

Smith was arrested April 29 at an apartment complex in Unity and charged with domestic violence assault, assault, terrorizing, criminal mischief and two counts of violating bail conditions in Waldo and Kennebec counties.

He was arrested and initially taken to the hospital for a cut he suffered in a scuffle with a male victim. While at the hospital and later at the jail, Smith said at least two dozen times that he planned to kill Trafton, according to a court affidavit.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Noble said the threats made by Smith were serious, graphic and violent and that he also threatened other law enforcement officers, according to the affidavit.

Trafton said Smith had a history of domestic violence and that over the years, the Sheriff’s Office had several run-ins with him. He assaulted the same victim more than once and, in this most recent incident, had assaulted his next-door neighbor.

When asked about Smith’s claim that Trafton illegally evicted him and that the Sheriff’s Office had targeted him, the sheriff said it stemmed from an incident several years ago.

“I responded to a residence he was renting where the landlord had evicted him,” Trafton said. Smith showed up and was harassing and threatening the landlord and “I had to forcibly make him leave.”

“It made him very angry with me personally,” the sheriff said.

From behavior he witnessed, Trafton said, he believes Smith may have had mental health issues besides struggling with substance abuse.

“If he was on his medications, he was polite and easy to talk to,” Trafton said, but he was a different person without his prescriptions.

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