Local News

New Date Set for Delayed Murder Trial

The sister of a Smithfield man who was shot to death nearly two years ago says the focus of what happened to her brother is no longer about justice – but politics.

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Keith West
SMITHFIELD, N.C. — The family of a man shot to death in his Smithfield home nearly two years ago said Tuesday that a new trial date for his accused killer has been set for June 30.

Donald "Keith" West, was found dead in his bedroom July 18, 2006. His girlfriend, Tiffany Ann Bassett, is charged with first-degree murder.

Bassett's trial was supposed to start last month but a judge continued it until April 21 because prosecutors turned over a discovery file five days before the case went to court.

Earlier this month, the trial was delayed indefinitely when the judge, E. Lynn Johnson, recused himself for undisclosed reasons.

Publicity in the case forced the court to change the trial venue from Johnston County to Cumberland County.

West was a Smithfield police officer for several years and left the department in 2001 to start a private police security operation.

Bassett and West's home was under foreclosure and was scheduled to be sold on the day West's body was found inside it.