Judge defends visitation decision for murdered boy


A Johnson County judge defended his decision to allow a now-accused killer to visit her son, even though police were called to her home more than 50 times in just the past two months.
Three-year-old Jacob Smith is dead and his mother is in jail, charged with drowning him.  13 Investigates obtained documents that reveal a history of problems with the mother, Amanda Smith, and a surprising decision by a judge just days before the child died.

Just four days before Jacob Smith was murdered - his mother told police she drowned the boy - Johnson County Judge Mark Loyd told Amanda Smith she was about to lose visitation with her son.

Smith's parents had voluntarily surrendered their son to his maternal grandmother in 2010. The couple, Smith and father Robert Crim, by their own admission, had battled with drugs. 

Allowing the courts into their lives meant the couple had to earn the right to see their son, and they made their arguments in Loyd's court.

Recently Crim wanted to regain custody, and at the same time, Jacob's mother had taken a turn for the worse.  There were documented instances that Amanda Smith was mentally unstable.

Jacob's father said that Judge Loyd should have known this, and should have refused to allow Amanda Smith visitation rights.    

"He (Loyd) don't want to take the blame," Crim told Eyewitness News. "He authorized this unsupervised visit to a woman that was very, very unstable."

After Smith was arrested for Jacob's murder, Loyd said, "There was never an indication, at any point in time, or even an inference, that there was any physical abuse or violence targeted toward the child by either parent."

The documents obtained by Eyewitness News show Amanda Smith not meeting court orders. In January, the court granted Smith one unsupervised overnight visit a week, but there were strings attached, with which Smith failed to comply.
And just four days before Jacob was murdered during one of those unsupervised overnight visits with his mother, the court issued a warning to Smith - comply with the court order or lose the right to see her son.

Judge Loyd told Eyewitness News his rulings were based on what Jacob's guardian - Smith's mother - and others, presented in court.

"You would expect the guardian who is in charge of the child, if she detects particular behavior problems or concerns, to bring it to the court's attention," he said.

He also questioned the court-appointed child advocates.

"I don't know the parties were aware of it," Loyd said of Amanda Smith's long history of run-ins with police and mental problems. "The CASA representative had recently been appointed in December, so they really didn't have an opportunity to get up to speed on the case or investigate the case - certainly into the January hearing."

Crim implied that Loyd should have sought input about Smith's unstable behavior before rendering a decision.

"You just can't overlook anything," he said. "You've got to make sure that person is stable."

"There were apparently issues that were starting to occur with regard to bizarre behavior by the mother, as reported by the police departments and other media outlets, that I wasn't aware of...wasn't brought to my attention," Loyd said.

Since Jacob's mother had not complied with recent court orders, it appeared Crim would get full custody of his only child at a hearing scheduled in two weeks.

Jacob would have turned four this coming week.

Loyd says he will review the case, to try to gain more information about individuals, and their current mental state.