Deputy killings accessory busted; ‘Good-time parole’ ends after weapons arrest

Published 12:15 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

BASTROP — A perpetrator linked to the killings of two St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies lasted less than five months in the free world before getting busted back into custody for illegal weapons possession, authorities said.

Derrick Smith, 27, who is an avowed Sovereign Citizen according to the Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections, was released April 1 to the custody of his grandmother in Oak Grove on “good-time parole” and again arrested Aug. 10 in Morehouse Parish.

Derrick Smith

Tim Kight, specialist with the Louisiana division of probation and parole, said Derrick Smith was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Noting that public details are scarce because of a sealed affidavit, Kight said authorities began their investigation into Smith “due to a Facebook picture posting.”

Kight said he is unsure when Smith’s next court date is, adding the suspect is being held in Morehouse Parish on a probation and parole hold.

Derrick Smith is the son of Terry Smith, who is charged with attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison last year in connection with another matter.

The Smiths are part of a group of people linked to the Aug. 16, 2012, ambush shootings of St. John deputies.

The suspects are accused of shooting and killing deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche and wounding deputies Michael Scott Boyington and Jason Triche.

Derrick Smith was originally charged with principal to attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty in May 2013 to an accessory charge and was sentenced to five years. He received an additional 12 years for the firearm charge.

St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said Derrick Smith should remain incarcerated.

“We were made aware of threats before he was released, and I just, point blank, don’t understand (how he could have been released,)” Tregre said. “And a lot of people feel the same way.”

Earlier this year, the court ruled the trials of defendants Brian Smith and Kyle Joekel would be moved out of St. John Parish.

Brian Smith and Joekel are possibly facing the death penalty in relation to the crimes following first-degree murder and attempted murder indictments from 2012.

Tregre said his office has not been made aware of official proceedings for the murder trial, but family members of the victims have said a February 2018 trial in St. Martin Parish has been suggested.

Louisiana State Police initially filed charges on seven suspects following the fatal shootings Aug. 16, 2012, implicating Brian Smith, Joekel, Brittney Keith, Terry Smith, Derrick Smith, Chanel Skains and Tenicha Bright.

Derrick Smith; Terry Smith’s wife, Chanel Skains; and Brian Smith’s girlfriend, Britney Keith — previously pleaded guilty as accessories.

Authorities identified Terry and Derrick Smith as contract workers employed at a joint venture project at the Valero St. Charles Refinery. Some of the suspects had ties to a violent anti-government organization known as Sovereign Citizens, which is on the FBI’s watch list, authorities said.

Boyington was working a traffic detail around 4 a.m. in the parking lot, which is used by Valero St. Charles Refinery contract workers and sustained wounds from gunshots fired from a vehicle. Boyington was hit several times but survived and managed to alert dispatch to a description of his shooter’s vehicle.

Police said they were able to place all three Smiths, Joekel and Bright in that car.

The other deputies were attacked when they went to Riverview Trailer Park, where the suspects lived.

Deputies Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielsen had tracked the vehicle used in the initial shooting to a residence at the mobile home park and were killed when a suspect opened fire on them with an assault rifle while they were questioning two others.