The brother of the woman killed by Jeffrey A. Smith 32 years ago in Eau Claire is hopeful Smith will be successful now that he’s been discharged from his civil commitment.
“We’ve been on a journey of forgiveness for a number of years now. It’s been about the safety of others,” Greg Fahrman said Friday after an Eau Claire County jury determined Smith was no longer a sexually violent person.
A three-day trial was held this week to determine whether Smith should be discharged from supervised release.
“I hope he’s successful,” Fahrman said of Smith. “If he’s successful, we have no more victims.”
Testimony at the trial indicated Smith has been successful in his treatment and supervised release.
“For now, I’m glad he has reached the point he has,” Fahrman said.
Drugs and alcohol led to Smith’s sex crimes in the past, Fahrman said.
“That’s the key here, if he can stay off drugs and alcohol,” he said of Smith.
This week’s trial has been closure for his family, Fahrman said.
“I’ve got a lot of notes from through the years,” he said. “I hope to put them on the shelf and let them collect some dust.”
Smith, 63, was convicted in the 1987 rape and strangulation of 27-year-old Susan Fahrman in her Eau Claire home. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and served 16 years and eight months. Since 2004, he has been committed as a patient to the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston. He has lived under supervised release in the E23000 block of Highway CF, east of Augusta.
He will no longer have any conditions placed on his release.
Smith, however, still has to register as a sex offender and be on GPS monitoring for the rest of his life.
Smith did not testify during the three-day trial.
In his closing arguments Friday morning, Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King reminded the jury that Smith has a history of at least five sexual offenses. Susan Fahrman’s murder was the last one.
“I ask you to consider all the effects of his sex offender history,” King said of Smith.
Smith still has two mental disorders, sexual sadism and anti-social personality disorder, King said.
Is he more likely than not to engage in future sexual violence based on his mental conditions, King asked.
“The clear and convincing answer to that question is yes,” he said.
In his closing arguments, Smith’s attorney, Richard L. Jones Sr., said Smith has undergone “a profound change” over the past 32 years.
When Smith was committed as a sexually violent person in 2004, there was no trial. Smith agreed to be committed, Jones said.
“He went through a steady progress with treatment,” Jones said of Smith. “He grappled through the issues presented to him. He wanted to prove he’s not sexually violent or deviant. He’s not the same man who committed these offenses 32 years ago.”
Is he still dangerous, Jones asked.
“Historically, he was,” Jones said. “Currently, he’s not.”
Smith successfully completed all of his treatment in prison, at Sand Ridge and while on supervised release, Jones said.
“No matter how you flip it or twist it, he’s entitled to some credit,” Jones said.
Jones told the jury that while on supervised release, Smith may have been in the same restaurant or grocery store with them.
“Jeffrey Smith has been successfully integrated into this community,” Jones said. “He really has changed.”
Smith in January filed a petition to be discharged from supervision. In the petition, Smith said his condition has changed and that he no longer meets the criteria for commitment as a sexually violent person.
Smith said in his petition that three separate medical evaluations in July 2015, August 2016 and July 2017 recommended discharge.
Some of Smith’s supervised release rules included:
• Restricted Internet use.
• Having all visitors approved.
• Complying with all treatment programs.
• Possessing no dangerous weapons or alcohol.
Judge William Gabler approved Smith’s supervised release in March 2016. In his ruling, Gabler said the state Department of Health Services’ plan for constant monitoring of Smith would provide protection to the public.
Smith is living at a residence he bought in 2003 as his release from prison approached.