By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The man accused of pulling the trigger in a Jan. 29 homicide has filed a claim of self-defense.
On Monday, a date of Nov. 12 was also set for the trial of Malcolm D. Cobb Jr., 46, who is charged with the killing of Spencer Smith. Brothers Joshua, 23, and Jonathan Wood, 20, are co-defendants in the case with Cobb.
According to police reports of the incident in Lapel on Jan. 29, the four men were using drugs and drinking in Smith’s living room Jan. 28, when Cobb confronted the 22-year-old Smith with an allegation of rape, which he denied.
Cobb persisted with his claim, holding a knife at Smith’s throat. Joshua Wood told Cobb to stop. When the older man pointed the knife at him, Joshua went outside.
That’s when events turned deadly.
Smith got up from the sofa where he was sitting and went into his bedroom. Cobb followed. He allegedly pulled out a handgun, ordered Smith to open a safe in the closet and then shot him in the shoulder, according to a statement Jonathon made to investigators.
When Smith stood up despite the wound, Cobb shot him four more times, according to the affidavit.
After that, Cobb and Jonathon Wood allegedly took a shotgun, .45-caliber handgun, ammunition and the safe to the apartment of female friends in Anderson. They were joined by Joshua Woods, according to court documents.
The group couldn’t open the safe, and called another person to help.
Cobb’s self-defense story was allegedly concocted while the group was still in Anderson. They returned to the duplex in the 6400 block of West County Road 300 South in Stony Creek Township where Cobb called 911 and reported the shooting.
Deputy prosecutor Bob Summerfield, who is trying the case, said he believes the events in the affidavit are accurate. He said he wasn't able to discuss much about the upcoming case, but he indicated the focus of the trial will be on Cobb and proving he pulled the trigger.
"We're moving forward on a 'worst guy first' prosecution," Summerfield said. "They're all co-defendants, though. It's the same concept as the guys in the getaway car on a bank robbery."
In February, Cobb claimed he shot Smith in self-defense, but defense attorney Jimmy McDole just filed the notice on Monday at the scheduling hearing.
At the time of the incident, Cobb also had a pending rape and domestic battery case from an incident in 2009. Cobb pleaded guilty to a Class B felony criminal confinement in the case in March and the charges of rape and domestic battery were dismissed. He received a seven-year sentence for that case.
Summerfield said it's unfortunate Cobb was free on bail from that case, but that's part of the justice system.
"Everyone is entitled to be let out on bond, whether we like it or not," he said.
In the February initial hearing for the Wood brothers, Tim Wood, father of the two men, said he is troubled about many aspects of how the case has been handled so far. According to the affidavit, and by Cobb's own admission, he is the one who shot Smith. Wood said he was unhappy that his sons are being charged at all.
According to Madison County Jail records, the Woods are still housed in the jail without bond, while Cobb has been transferred to the Department of Correction.
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What's next? Malcolm Cobb Jr., Jonathan Wood, Joshua Wood murder trial Nov. 12 in Madison Circuit Court 4, Judge David Happe