Preliminary hearing set in pastor stalking case

Published 11:05 pm Thursday, July 9, 2015

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for a 22-year-old Selma man that allegedly texted a pastor and threatened to kill him.

According to Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson, Rodriguez Smiley’s preliminary hearing will be held Aug. 20.

“We have to take those kinds of threats seriously because of what all is going on,” Jackson said. “You had the killings in Charleston, S.C., and you have all these churches being burned across the country, so any time you have those kind of threats on a pastor, you have to really take that seriously.”

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Smiley was charged with making a terrorist threat and stalking and was given a $2 million bond a few days after his Monday, June 29 arrest.

According to Detective Jeff Hardy with the Selma Police Department, Smiley was stalking bishop Effell Williams, pastor of Tabernacle Church of Praise, for nearly a year.

“He has been stalking the bishop since last year, and he was sending out texts on the phone threatening to kill him,” Hardy told the Times-Journal after Smiley’s arrest.

Jackson said the alleged threats were somewhat shocking to hear because of Williams’ reputation.

“I was alarmed to hear that somebody would threaten bishop Williams. He’s a really good guy,” Jackson said. “He takes time out with people to council them, and so I was a little surprised that he would be the one targeted.”

According to Hardy, Smiley was arrested after he allegedly admitted to sending text messages that threatened Williams’ life and others that were not named.

Jackson said he has spoken to Williams several times since Smiley was arrested.

“He’s going about his regular routine,” Jackson said. “Bishop [Williams] is a strong person. I know he’s seen it all throughout his life, so it didn’t shock him too much.”

Jackson said his office is in the process of preparing for the preliminary hearing.

Selma attorney Ed Greene, who represents Smiley, said he is interested in seeing what evidence will be presented by the state.

“I think the young man is a very sincere person and probably not the booger bear they make him out to be. The young man has some very good people in his family, and we think that would stand him well,” Greene said. “We will explore the avenues that are available at this point.”

If there is enough evidence in the case, it will be bound to a Dallas County grand jury.