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Bail set at $800,000 in case of grandmother connected to 8-year-old’s death

Crime Watch

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EMMETT — An Emmett woman arrested in connection to the death of an 8-year-old girl appeared in court for the first time Monday afternoon.

Connie Smith, 54, was originally booked in Ada County on a first-degree murder charge Thursday evening. That charge has been amended, and Smith is now charged with felony failure to notify of a death as well as felony destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

The body of 8-year-old Taryn Summers Quinton was found on Smith’s property Thursday. Few details have been released about the case, but Smith is the child’s grandmother. Taryn’s two siblings, 16-year-old Tristan Conner Sexton and 14-year-old Taylor Summers Quinton, were reported as runaways last fall. During a news conference last week, Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said law enforcement has been in contact with Taylor, and family members have been in contact with Tristan. Police do not believe the kids are in danger.

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Connie Smith | Ada County Jail

Smith appeared before Judge Tyler Smith via Zoom from the Ada County Jail wearing a red sweatshirt and black-and-white striped pants. When asked if she understood her rights, she quietly replied, “Yes,” as her attorney, Joshua Taylor, sat next to her.

Gem County Prosecuting Attorney Erick Thomson argued that Smith’s bail should be at least $1 million based on the “disturbing and egregious” facts of the case.

RELATED | Body found believed to be missing 8-year-old, suspect in custody for murder

“The state is waiting for the conclusion of the investigation before making a final determination of any charges. It would be my current belief that additional charges for Ms. Smith will be coming,” Thomson said. “Based on the charges themselves, you can see the unwillingness to report and unwillingness to comply with any orders of the court.”

Taylor told Judge Smith his client is not a flight risk, has no criminal history and is strongly tied to the community.

“She’s been here in Idaho for over 20 years and has eight children. She was given the opportunity to deliver herself to law enforcement, which she did peacefully, so that tells us she would show up (to future court dates),” Taylor said. “She’s not a person of substantial means, so any time of monetary bond would be significantly difficult for her to obtain.”

Judge Smith ended up setting bail at $800,000 and scheduled Smith’s preliminary hearing for May 3.

“In reviewing the probable cause affidavit, the alleged conduct is disturbing: the report that the child was missing (and) ultimately the discovery of the deceased child on the property, I believe two days later. The potential penalty, depending on the conclusion of the investigation, could be severe,” Judge Smith said. “That’s the type of thing the court gets concerned about when someone starts weighing whether or not they’re going to appear in court.”

If Smith posts bail, she will be required to wear a GPS monitor at all times and cannot leave specific counties in western Idaho. She must surrender her passport and will not be allowed to have any contact with children under 18.

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