Man who killed wife and blamed homeless panhandlers found guilty of first-degree murder

Keith Smith was found guilty of murdering his wife by a Baltimore jury on Thursday.

The case sparked nationwide controversy after Keith Smith attempted to blame her death on a homeless couple who were panhandling nearby.

"Jurors deliberated about five hours over two days before convicting Smith, 55, of Aberdeen, of murdering Jacquelyn Smith, his wife. His trial began last week in Baltimore Circuit Court and continued for five days with testimony from detectives who unraveled Smith’s tale about midnight, knife-wielding panhandlers on a desolate city street corner," The Baltimore Sun reports. "Smith was convicted of murder and a weapons charge for the knife used in the attack."

Smith was arrested with his daughter in Texas, only 20 miles north of the border with Mexico. She was earlier convicted for her role in the killing.

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"Keith Smith told police he was driving his wife and adult daughter, Valeria, home after celebrating Valeria’s birthday at an American Legion hall. Jacquelyn passed $10 out the window to a couple panhandling with a baby, he told police, but they snatched Jacquelyn’s necklace, stole the wallet from her lap and stabbed her with a kitchen knife. He drove his wife to the hospital where she died," The Sun reported. "In the days afterward, the father and daughter gave grief-stricken interviews to news reporters. He broke down crying before homicide detectives. Keith urged officials to outlaw panhandling in the streets of Baltimore so no one else fell victim like his wife."

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28, CBS Baltimore reports. Mosby said she would seek the maximum sentence of life in prison plus three years.