Murder trial to begin in Cobb woman’s 1995 strangling

Seventeen years after flight attendant Karmen Smith was strangled to death in her apartment, the man accused of killing her is set to stand trial in Cobb County Superior Court this week.

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Waseem Anas Daker, who prosecutors say stabbed Smith twice before strangling her on Oct. 23, 1995. Daker also is accused of stabbing Smith’s 5-year-old son 16 times when he returned home from school that day. The son, Nickolas Smith, survived and is expected to testify.

Daker, 35, of Lawrenceville is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking and burglary. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

“He’s just emphatic that he’s innocent and did not commit these crimes alleged,” defense attorney Jason Treadaway said.

About a year after Smith’s slaying, Daker, then 19, was convicted of stalking Smith’s upstairs housemate. He spent a decade in prison on those charges and was released in 2006. It was not until DNA testing linked him to the crime scene in 2009 that Daker was charged in Smith’s slaying.

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Daker, a Georgia Tech dropout who worked in his father’s furniture store in Alpharetta, insisted on representing himself for the past two years after firing several public and private defense attorneys. In a consent order that’s part of the court record, Daker claimed that he and his first retained lawyer, Brian Steel, were “diametrically opposed” in terms of their trial strategy.

Daker then complained to the court that Michael Syrop, the public defense lawyer subsequently appointed to serve as “standby counsel” in the case, wasn’t helping him.

In February, Daker consented to let the father-son legal team of Michael and Jason Treadaway represent him. However, Jason Treadaway said Friday that Daker has filed a new motion asking Judge Mary Staley to replace his current defense team.

Treadaway said it would be unusual for a judge to grant such a last-minute request. Doing so could cause another delay in a trial that already has been postponed twice. The prosecutor handling the case, Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans, could not be reached for comment.

Staley is expected to rule on the matter Monday morning before bringing in prospective jurors.

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