Trial underway for GPS monitoring of man convicted of 1987 murder

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- There's an intense debate taking place in Eau Claire County; is an Augusta man convicted of rape and murder still sexually violent more than 30 years after his crime?

Jeffery Smith, 62, was convicted of killing UW-Eau Claire student Susan Fahrman in 1987.

Now Smith has filed a sexually violent person petition to be discharged from supervised release. He’s currently facing a jury to decide if he should be allowed to live without electronic monitoring.

Susie’s brother Greg Fahrman said this is the first time ever Smith will be facing a jury trial as he originally settled the case on a plea agreement.

“It was real difficult just now hearing about the rape and murder of our sister Susie,” said Fahrman of the trial. “The main thing is this may be coming to an end for us, depends on what the jury come out with, but at least I'm grateful for the opportunity to have public input in this.”

Smith served 17 years of his 25 year prison sentence and then spent 12 years in a treatment facility after he agreed he was still at risk of reoffending. He was released with supervision in 2016.

Defense attorney Richard Lance Jones says despite Smith’s1987 conviction he's no longer that sexually violent person.

“The man that sits at the table with me right now is not the same man that sat at a table in this courthouse when he was originally committed as a sexually violent person,” said Jones. “The law says he's only committed until such time as he no longer is and there's no doubt, none, that he's not a sexually violent person.”

However the state disagrees and called Dr. Bradley Allen to testify to Smith's lengthy violent criminal history including the rape and murder of Fahrman.

Dr. Allen said, “He tried to silence her using a bootlace which he held down on her throat as a result she suffocated and he fled after she died.”

On the other hand the defense argues that more than a decade of treatment has transformed Smith.

“His treatment team calls him a role model for other supervised patients. They have no concerns about him if he were to be discharged,” said Jones.

Although district attorney Gary King says that’s not enough to ensure the community's safety.

“At the conclusion of the case and after the presentation of all the evidence I will ask you to make a finding that Mr. Smith is still a sexually violent person,” said King.

Smith's trial is expected to last three days.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A trial is underway for an Augusta man convicted of the rape and murder of a UW-Eau Claire student.

The jury was selected Wednesday morning in the case of 63-year-old Jeffery Smith, who was convicted in 1987 of killing Susan Fahrman.
After being released from prison in 2016, he wanted to be off electronic monitoring. The Eau Claire County Court chose to hold a trial this month. Eight people have been selected to serve on the jury, including one alternate. The conditions of his 2016 released is to include lifetime GPS monitoring

Stay with WEAU for this developing story as we continue to monitor this trial as it progresses.