June 17, 2024

Maryland man charged with hate crimes in parking dispute that left 3 Latinos dead

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a man accused of killing three people and wounding three others parking dispute.

The three people shot to death were Latinos; The man accused of shooting them is white. Their families have lived on the same street for years and have had a history of disputes, including allegations of racial slurs against one of the victims.

Charles Robert Smith, 43, was charged with second degree murder. Now he faces first-degree murder and hate crime charges in the slayings of Mario Mireles, his father Nicholas Mireles, and Christian Segovia, under an indictment returned Friday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury, according to online court records.

The 42-count indictment also includes six charges of attempted first-degree murder. Smith’s initial court appearance was scheduled for next Monday. His original lawyer is no longer representing him, and another attorney did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

Maryland’s hate crime law applies to crimes that are motivated in whole or in part by another person’s race, color, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin. It enables prosecutors to add years to a sentence, and financial penalties. Smith faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

According to police charging documents, the six people who were shot were attending a large party when a dispute broke out over a parking issue. Mireles went to Smith’s house to talk about it and was arguing with Shirley Smith when her son Charles Smith returned home and confronted him. The verbal argument turned physical.

Smith pulled out a gun and Mireles tried to grab him before Smith shot Mireles and Segovia. Smith then stood over Mario Mireles and shot him several times,” the document states. Smith then went into his house, got a rifle and started shooting through a window at people who came to help the mortally wounded men. Smith fatally shot Nicolas Mireles, and wounded Rosalina Segovia, Paul Johnnson and Enner Canales-Hernandez, police said.

Smith surrendered when police arrived, telling officers he shot the victims because they had shot at his home. However, none of the witnesses interviewed saw any of the victims with a firearm, according to charging documents.

The Smith and Mireles families have been in dispute for years, even going to court for help at one point. Mario Mireles sought a petition for a peace order in September 2016, accusing Shirley Smith of harassing him and their neighbors since he was a child. He accused him of directing racial slurs at him and his family, as well as other Black neighbors.

He wrote that he was washing his car in front of his house when Shirley Smith sped by about “an arm’s length away,” saying he believed she was “aiming” at him with her car.

Shirley Smith also sought a peace order at the same time, accusing Mireles of hitting her car with a large wet towel or blanket. She also accused him of throwing rocks at street signs and hitting vehicles.

Peace orders are civil orders that ask a person to refrain from certain actions. The judge denied his petition.

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