Wenatchee hotel assailant convicted on two counts, acquitted of attempted murder

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WENATCHEE — James Lawrence Jackson-Smith, a former reality TV persona arrested in a bruising physical attack on a Wenatchee hotel worker last May, was convicted Friday of first-degree assault and kidnapping.

Chelan County jurors declined to convict Jackson-Smith of attempted first-degree murder, the most serious of three charges leveled by prosecutors. The 33-year-old Michigan man now faces an estimated prison term of 14 years up to almost 18 years when he’s sentenced next week.

He told jurors in testimony during his two-day trial that he was struck and attacked by the 23-year-old employee at the Wenatchee Super 8, whom he summoned to his third-floor room May 20 to unstop a clogged toilet. But in her own testimony, the woman said Jackson-Smith came at her from behind while she was working in the bathroom — against hotel policy that required guests to wait outside during maintenance visits — and tried to choke with his forearm, then his hand, and finally her own work lanyard before she was able to get away.

Jackson-Smith was arrested about 90 minutes later when East Wenatchee police stopped his southbound car on highway 28. He’s been jailed ever since, and now faces sentencing on Wednesday.

Prosecutors initially charged him with first-degree assault and kidnapping, but filed the attempted murder count after negotiations on a possible plea deal fell through. Conviction on that count alone could have led to a minimum 15-year prison term, deputy prosecutor Ryan Valaas said.

The combined convictions yield a likely imprisonment range of 168 months to 215 months, based on Washington sentencing guidelines.

Jurors started their deliberation just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, then resumed Friday morning. They told Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera they’d reached their verdict just before 3 p.m.

Jackson-Smith, who lives in Michigan but has family roots in the Cle Elum area, was visiting Wenatchee to attend a relative’s funeral in Leavenworth. He was one of many lumber operators featured on the History Channel show “Ax Men,” which aired for several seasons starting in 2008.