Police say the suspect in the Feb. 11 killing of Ashton Dixon was off the street and in federal custody the day after the fatal shooting in the Colonial Gardens apartment complex in Kingston. But nearly a month would elapse before an Ulster County grand jury handed up an indictment against Corey Q. Smith, and even longer before Smith was arraigned on state charges of second-degree murder.
Authorities say the secrecy was necessary to protect the safety of witnesses in a case that they believe may be gang-related.
On Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Dixon, 31, was shot three times on a sidewalk at the Kingston Housing Authority Complex off of Flatbush Avenue. He was transported to HealthAlliance Hospital of the Hudson Valley’s Broadway campus where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Police believe he was gunned down following a dispute with Smith, a Bronx resident who fled the scene before cops arrived. The next day, Feb. 12, Smith, 35, was arrested in the Bronx and charged with a federal parole violation. He has remained in federal custody since then. In 2006, Smith was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of post-release supervision following a conviction on federal charges of cocaine sales and weapons possession.
While Smith remained in federal custody at the Rensselaer County Jail, local authorities continued their investigation into Dixon’s killing. By March 6, cops had obtained enough evidence to secure a grand jury indictment charging Smith with second-degree murder. The indictment remained sealed until March 20, when Smith was brought to Ulster County Court for arraignment before Acting County Court Judge Anthony McGinty.
Ulster County District Attorney Dave Clegg said the sealed indictment and delay in the arraignment were necessary because of the potential for retaliation against witnesses in the case. Clegg added that there was evidence that the case involved gang activity. Dixon was a reputed member of the Sex Money Murder set of the Bloods gang who served 12 years in state prison after he shot and wounded a bystander in a 2006 brawl in a Kingston schoolyard. Clegg declined to describe Smith’s gang affiliation or possible motive for the shooting.
“We knew he was incarcerated,” said Clegg. “The timing on our end was just to make sure we completed the investigation and made sure that everyone involved was safe before we moved forward.”
While Smith remains in custody without bail, the ongoing coronavirus crisis makes the future of the case unclear. State courts are closed except for emergency business. Clegg said this week that his office would complete legally mandated “discovery” — the turning over of prosecution evidence to defense attorneys — within the next two weeks.
“When the world starts up again and the courts are back in action, the case will move along,” said Clegg.