Smith: Murder, Not Illegal Activity, Remains Focus Of Investigation - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/24/07

Smith: Murder, Not Illegal Activity, Remains Focus Of Investigation

Smith County investigators combed the Rancho Ojo De Agua Sunday night, hoping to find answers in the deadly shooting.

With hundreds of potential witnesses, and few of them willing to talk, Sheriff J.B. Smith says this murder will be difficult to solve.

"I'm using my criminal investigation division to follow down leads all the way from Tyler to Mexico," said Smith.

There's no time, he said, to look into questions of bootlegging or illegal gambling at the facility.

"Common sense tells you that any time there's any kind of a race going on, someone's going to be betting on that race. As to the depth of the betting or the illegal activity that was involved, we don't know as of yet, because again, we're having trouble getting information out of these people," said Smith.

Smith County Constable Henry Jackson owns and operates the company who provides security at the ranch. He said the facility is very family-oriented.

"A lot of kids; a lot of families with their horses," said Jackson.

Jackson said he's never seen anything illegal at the ranch, but did talk to the owner about it Sunday night.

"I said, 'I heard y'all were gambling.' I said, 'I need to know if ya'll have been gambling, because we can't be out here supporting any illegal gambling and having security out here doing their basic law enforcement duties," said Jackson.

"He advised me he is not gambling himself.  There is no gambling going on that he knows of, and there is a large sign that says 'No gambling on his property," said Jackson.

For now, investigators say that is the least of their concern. Finding the killer remains the focus of the investigation.

Sheriff J.B. Smith says he will turn over any investigation into other illegal activity to state or federal agencies.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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