Willie Ray Smith has had a troubled life, at least over the past eight years. The 47-year old man living in Santa Rosa has been homeless, and has been using the Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa for support. Smith died in the very early hours of Monday morning after he was involved in a fight.
According to the Santa Rosa Police, he was found at 3:10 am suffering from a stab wound. Emergency medical personnel, who were also called to the scene, transported him to the hospital, but he succumbed to the injury. A search of the area was immediately conducted in an effort to locate an adult male who witnesses had described being in the area of the crime.
Willie Ray Smith was well known to Santa Rosa police, with a rap sheet a mile long over the past eight years. The history of arrests shows he had a tendency to get drunk and trespass where he was not wanted. He has been arrested at least twenty times, mostly for variations of penal code 602 – trespassing, and pc 647(f) – drunk in public, or public intoxication. An arrest for being drunk in public must also include being unable to care for one’s own safety, is a risk to others, or is obstructing a public thoroughfare. Smith was also charged, in September of 2007, with disturbing the peace in a fight, and resisting arrest. And many of his subsequent arrests included charges of violating terms of his probation.
During most of these arrests, Smith reported a home address of 600 Morgan Street in Santa Rosa, which is the Catholic Charities Homeless Service Center that provides resources, counseling and shelter referrals, along with showers, laundry, phone and mailing services. However, he had since moved into a house in southwest Santa Rosa, located on Red Tail Street near Elsie Allen High School. According to a story in the Press Democrat, he was living in the home with several roommates, which was likely a halfway house for former transients. They quoted Jennielynn Holmes of the Catholic Charities as saying that he was transitioning out of homelessness with their support, but she did not specify if the house was a group home.
Santa Rosa police conducted their early morning search of the area, looking for a man who matched the witnesses’ description. At about 6 am, an officer patrolling on Hearn Avenue, about three quarters of a mile from the scene and near Southwest Community Park, spotted a possible suspect, Kahlil Rahim Keith, 35, who was detained by the officer. Detectives handling the case concluded that Keith was a prime suspect, and he was arrested on charges of murder and being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon. They had reason to believe Keith and Smith were known to each other, but that Keith was currently homeless.
Kahlil Keith has been arrested several times as well, as recently as Wednesday, April 29 by Santa Rosa police for public intoxication. He was arrested in February and November on charges of shoplifting and burglary, along with felony parole violations. He has reported residences in San Francisco, Rohnert Park, and most recently Santa Rosa, where he, like Smith, listed the 600 Morgan Street Catholic Charities Service Center as his address. According to the Press Democrat, however, Jennielynn Holmes reported that he was not being served, at least at this time, by the organization.
According to Santa Rosa Police, the investigation is ongoing, and anyone who can provide additional information is encouraged to call the Department’s Violent Crimes Investigation Team at 707-543-3590.
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