2009-05-21 / Local & State

Jay Smith, Convicted Of Murder Then Freed, Dies

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A former high school principal who spent six years on death row after being convicted of killing a suburban Philadelphia teacher and her children - and then had the convictions thrown out - died Tuesday at age 80, according to his lawyer's office.

Jay C. Smith died in a Wilkes- Barre hospital, where he had been treated for a heart condition.

Smith spent six years on death row after a 1986 conviction for conspiring with another teacher, William S. Bradfield Jr., to kill Susan Reinert, 36, and her two children. Bradfield and Reinert had been having an affair.

Smith was principal of Upper Merion High School, where both Reinert and Bradfield taught English.

Reinert's naked and battered body was found in the trunk of her car outside a Harrisburg-area motel in 1979. An autopsy determined she died of a massive morphine overdose.

The remains of her children - Karen, 11, and Michael, 10 - have never been found.

Smith was freed in 1992 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the government hid evidence that would have helped Smith and falsely denied cutting a deal with a jailhouse informant who testified against Smith.

Bradfield, who also was convicted in the case, died in prison in 1998.

"Echoes in the Darkness,'' a book about the case by author Joseph Wambaugh, was a bestseller and network TV miniseries.

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