Mobile Police have concluded their investigation into the death of a man found deceased in a car owned by a local attorney, but with autopsy and toxicology reports pending, 28-year-old Garrett Smith’s family has been critical of the department’s handling of the investigation.
Smith was found in the driver’s seat of a dark gray BMW 328i parked along the side of the road near the intersection of Dauphin Island Parkway and Magnolia Lane Aug. 14. The car belonged to criminal defense attorney Michael Wing, who was seen traveling with Smith the day he died.
Garrett Smith’s brother, Michael Smith, previously expressed concern over a number of perplexing details about Garrett’s death. In addition to the location where his body was found, Garrett didn’t have on shoes and didn’t have his keys, his wallet or the cellphone he normally “didn’t go anywhere without,” according to his brother.
There’s been no confirmation of where Wing was when first responders found Smith’s body in his car, but a passerby named Pamela Wallace described a man around Wing’s age with a similar white hair color as being “kind of hysterical” when she happened upon the scene.
A police report indicated Wing’s BMW was collected at the scene along with a laptop and “a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.” While an attorney representing Wing has previously said he cooperated with investigators, he wasn’t arrested the day Garrett Smith died and hasn’t been charged with any crime since.
When Lagniappe inquired about MPD’s investigation of Smith’s death, spokeswoman Charlette Solis said it had concluded and the “information had been shared with the [Smith] family.” Solis said autopsy results would be shared with the family when available, but “no further information [would] be provided to the media.”
A records request seeking Garrett Smith’s autopsy report was denied by Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) in early September because the case was still “under investigation,” though it’s unclear if that meant an ADFS investigation or one opened by local authorities.
Michael Smith confirmed his family recently met with homicide investigators, but said the meetings didn’t clarify much. He feels the investigation was “botched from the beginning,” because the area where his brother’s body was found wasn’t treated as a crime scene.
“If a cop rolled up on me and I was with a dead body that had been dead for a while, they wouldn’t just say, ‘Go on to the house and get your story straight. We’ll call you,’” Smith said. “I think surely they’d bring me down for questioning at least.”
A previous Lagniappe report detailed at least three individuals who claimed to have interacted with Garrett Smith on the day he died, including an employee at a BMW dealership who said Smith tried to sell a car similar to Wing’s the morning of his death and a service station owner who captured the pair on surveillance video the same day.
The third individual was Wallace, who claimed to have walked to the scene where Garrett’s body was discovered. She noticed he was showing signs of rigor mortis, which typically occurs hours after a person’s death, something consistent with other reports from the scene.
Lagniappe contacted the MPD homicide unit to share those contacts with investigators, but more than a month later some of that information doesn’t appear to have been followed up on. MPD also declined to comment on whether those individuals had been contacted.
According to the owners of Griffith’s Service Station, as of Oct. 16 no one from MPD had been by to collect or review the surveillance footage captured on Aug. 14 showing Smith and Wing traveling in the BMW his body would be found in later that day.
Calls to Wallace were not immediately returned, but Smith said she had not been contacted by MPD to his knowledge, adding that one homicide investigator wasn’t even sure who she was when the family inquired about the any follow-up the department had done.
An MPD investigator did visit the employee at the local BMW dealership to download phone logs containing the call Garrett Smith made about selling a car similar to Wing’s that morning, though it was the day after the employee was contacted by local reporters.
Wing did not personally return calls seeking comment on a previous report related to Smith’s death, though another attorney, John Brutkiewicz, provided a statement on his behalf to local media. He said Wing had cooperated with police and offered condolences to the Smith family.
Calls to Brutkiewicz seeking comment on this report were not immediately returned.