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Fatal arson trial under way
Man killed in 2010 blaze
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Forsyth County News


Jury selection began Monday in the trial of two people accused in connection with a 2010 fatal arson at a south Forsyth home.

Jill Smith and Peter Delaney pleaded not guilty in March to one count each of murder, felony murder and first-degree arson.

Smith’s husband, Michael Smith, was killed in an Oct. 22, 2010, blaze in their home at 5540 Kennemore Drive off Union Hill Road.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Attorneys for both defendants have maintained their clients’ innocence and questioned the evidence in the case.

Both Smiths and Jill Smith’s son were in the home at the time of the blaze, as was Delaney, with whom authorities have said Jill Smith was having an affair.

Michael Smith reportedly was trapped in an upstairs bathroom and suffered severe burns all over his body.

During a hearing in 2011, Forsyth County Fire Lt. Debbie Lindstrom testified that the fire had been set, though she didn’t know by whom.

She also said burn holes in the floor of an upstairs bedroom indicated an accelerant had been used.

The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide as the result of thermal burns and smoke and soot inhalation, she said.

Lindstrom testified that Jill Smith may have been motivated by the affair and money. In December 2009, she had become the sole beneficiary of her husband’s $250,000 life insurance policy.