New Mexico Man Cleared In Deaths Of Oklahoma Prostitutes

Tuesday, September 4th 2007, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A New Mexico dentist serving life in prison for murder is no longer a ``person of interest'' in the unsolved killings of several prostitutes in the Lawton area.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said James Smith, who once attended the University of Oklahoma, is no longer a part of the investigation.

The OSBI began investigating him in May to determine if he was involved in the deaths of Jane Chafton, Cassandra Ramsey, Mandy Raite and Janice Buono. The four were killed between 1999 and 2002 and their naked bodies were found near rural county roads.

Smith, who could have faced the death penalty in New Mexico in the 2005 slaying of a Clovis, N.M., woman, agreed to a plea bargain last December that put him behind bars for at least 57 years.

Smith entered an Alford plea to charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, attempted sexual penetration and tampering with evidence in the slaying of Laura McNaughton, 30. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that sufficient evidence exists to convict.

The arrest warrant affidavit said McNaughton's co-workers told investigators that Smith sought her out at the restaurant where she worked and gave her large tips. The affidavit also said she talked to her family and hair stylist about a dentist who was causing her concern.