Murder charges upgraded in Highway 169 shooting in Plymouth

Two vehicles on rainy highway.
Plymouth police released this photo in July that they believe depicts the moments leading up to a fatal shooting on U.S. Highway 169.
Plymouth Police Department

A Hennepin County grand jury has returned a first-degree murder indictment against a Chicago man accused of killing a fellow driver last summer on U.S. Highway 169.

Authorities allege Jamal Lindsey Smith pulled up next to 56-year-old Jay Boughton and fired a fatal shot through Boughton's driver's side window as the man drove home from a youth baseball game with his son.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office initially charged the 33-year-old Smith with second-degree murder. A grand jury added a count of first-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Citing witness statements and a Wisconsin police report, prosecutors say Smith brandished a firearm to five other passing vehicles in the hours before he allegedly killed Boughton.

The killing in the Minneapolis suburb happened around 10 p.m. July 6 on Highway 169, south of Rockford Road. Two vehicles were traveling southbound when a suspect in one vehicle shot at another vehicle, hitting Boughton. The suspect then fled the scene.

The charging document doesn’t detail a motive, saying only that the "shooting stemmed from a brief altercation" between the victim and another vehicle.

Erik Fadden, Plymouth’s police chief, described what happened as a“traffic altercation” but not a “back-and-forth road rage” incident, telling reporters last month that it was “really just a senseless act that happened in a brief moment when two vehicles were next to each other.”

Boughton died at North Memorial Health Hospital. A vehicle that matched the description in the shooting was found after law enforcement released traffic camera images.

Smith is being held in the Hennepin County jail on $3.5 million bond.

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