Principal Suspect: The True Story of Dr. Jay Smith and the Main Line Murders

William Costopoulos, Author Camino Books $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-940159-36-5
Smith had been the principal of the high school in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Merion for 12 years when, in 1979, he was arrested and found guilty of two robberies. Searching his home, police found an arsenal of weapons (Smith was a colonel in the Army Reserve), marijuana and a collection of pornography. On the day he was sentenced, the body of one of his teachers, Susan Reinert, was discovered in a car in Harrisburg, Penn. Her two children are still missing and presumed dead. Suspicion fell on another teacher, William Bradfield, whom Reinert had named the beneficiary of several insurance policies recently taken out, amounting to almost a million dollars. Bradfield, who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and given three life sentences, claimed that Smith was the killer. Smith was then found guilty in a trial in which, according to Costopoulos, the judge permitted hearsay testimony, the police withheld evidence and witnesses perjured themselves. A state police investigator later admitted to accepting $50,000 from author Joseph Wambaugh as a consultant on his book on the case, Echoes in the Darkness. Costopoulos, Smith's lawyer, uncovered all this prosecutorial misconduct and obtained his client's release from prison after seven years on death row. Dubbing Smith ""the strangest person I have ever come to know,"" Costopoulos has nonetheless written a sympathetic account that will convince readers that Smith suffered a miscarriage of justice. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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