Montana CB Wilson in L.A. County jail on murder charges

Updated: June 13, 2007, 11:49 PM ET
Associated Press

PALMDALE, Calif. -- University of Montana cornerback Jimmy Wilson is in custody in Los Angeles County on murder charges, authorities said Wednesday.

Wilson is accused of shooting and killing a man on June 2, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told the Antelope Valley Press of Palmdale, Calif. A deputy, Kelly Simon, identified Wilson as a University of Montana football player.

Wilson was being held in Los Angeles County on $1 million bail.

He turned himself in to authorities Tuesday in Lancaster, Calif., which is about an hour northeast of Los Angeles.

Authorities say he was involved in an altercation between Kevin Smoot, 29, and Smoot's girlfriend, who apparently is related to Wilson.

Los Angeles County authorities said Wilson went to Smoot's home on June 2 and shot him. Smoot was shot in the upper torso and later died, police said.

UM Executive Vice President Jim Foley told the AP the school is monitoring the situation.

"It is in the California criminal courts, and we will continue to determine the facts over the course of the next few days," Foley said.

Wilson, whose given name is James Leon Wilson, is a San Diego native who came to Montana right out of high school. Wilson will be a senior this fall.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

Smoot was shot as he stood in the driveway of his house, sheriff's Deputy Anthony Moore told the AP. The gunman fled the scene.

Investigators later identified Wilson as a suspect, and Wilson surrendered to authorities with his attorney, Moore said. Authorities did not have the name of the attorney.

Smoot's mother, Leslie, said her son had two young children with his 27-year-old girlfriend. She did not know the relationship between Wilson and her son's girlfriend.

She said she learned the news of the arrest Wednesday, the same day she buried her son.

"My heart went out to my son, and for a young man who has just messed up his life," Leslie Smoot said. "It didn't have to happen that way."

Wilson's arrest was the latest bit of bad news for Montana collegiate football.

On May 18, Montana State football coach Mike Kramer was fired after another of his former players was arrested. Over the past year, five former MSU players and one current MSU player have been arrested on criminal charges, including a murder charge.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press