A previously convicted sex offender yesterday admitted in Butte County Superior Court to the 2015 brutal murder of an Oroville homeless woman after his attempt to plead not guilty by insanity failed.
William Henry Smith, 48, of Oroville, plead no contest to murder ending the long-running case in which he had been examined by various mental health experts in his attempt to avoid responsibility. District Attorney Mike Ramsey said that back on October 26, 2015, Smith along with his then girlfriend Julie Moss, 54, enticed the victim, Angela Murray, 40, into their vehicle with the promise of sharing methamphetamine. At the time Murray was living at a homeless camp near Robertson’s Market in Oroville. They drove Murray to a secluded location on rural Dunstone Drive, outside of Oroville. While at that location, Smith, Moss, and the victim used methamphetamine and Smith indicated in later police interviews that he proposed sex with Murray. Smith admitted to investigators that during the course of the evening he began to argue with Murray and admitted he stabbed Murray in the back of the neck and the chest, killing her. He removed Murray’s clothing and disposed of evidence.
Shortly thereafter, Smith and Moss fled to Wisconsin. Murray’s body was left out in an open field until it was discovered three weeks later on November 14, 2015 by two teenagers riding horses in the area. An autopsy of Murray’s body revealed over 54 stab wounds in her chest and lower torso. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office put out a press release for any information relating to Murray’s murder.
In December of 2015, acquaintances of Smith and Moss in Wisconsin contacted the local sheriff’s office after Smith had confessed to them that he murdered Murray. Butte County Sheriff’s detectives flew to Wisconsin to locate Smith and interview the witnesses. Detectives in the sheriff’s Oroville office were able to monitor the GPS coordinates of Moss’ phone during that time. On December 20, 2015, detectives obtained a precise location of Smith and Moss in Wisconsin Rapids. Smith and Moss were shortly thereafter arrested by authorities in Wisconsin and interviewed by Butte County detectives. Both Smith and Moss were eventually extradited back to California.
Prior to a preliminary hearing in June 2016, Smith was found incompetent to stand trial. He was sent to Napa State Hospital where doctors found much of his alleged psychological problems to be fake. The Hospital returned him to the Superior Court to resume criminal proceedings but Smith claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity. However, after an evaluation by an independent psychologist in June of this year, this claim was also found false.
Smith’s former girlfriend Julie Moss pled guilty in June 2016 to being an accessory to the murder of Angela Murray. As a result, Moss was sentenced to a three year felony term in Butte County Jail.
Smith was a sex offender due to a 2001 conviction for Lewd Acts with a Child over 14 years of age.
Because of his plea, Smith faces 15 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Clare Keithley on October 12, 2017.