ST. LOUIS – A jury has convicted a St. Louis man in the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend.

Kenneth N. Smith, 35, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in
the death of Jason Slater on Aug. 1, 2020.

Investigators say Smith stabbed Slater seven times at his girlfriend’s home in the Carondelet neighborhood. Slater suffered at least one stab wound and died from his injuries.

According to court documents, Smith went to his ex-girlfriend’s home on Idaho Avenue just before 2 a.m. after he saw her at a bar the night before. His ex-girlfriend was living with Slater and their younger daughter.

Prosecutors argued that Smith was the aggressor and forced his way into his ex-girlfriend’s home. After that, Smith and Slater got involved in a fist fight, and Smith reportedly grabbed a knife in the kitchen. Smith claimed he acted in self-defense and that Slater had a gun.

“After (Smith) gets the knife, he instigates a fight with Jason and goads Jason into putting his gun down,” said Assistant Circuit Attorney Srikant Chigurupati in court Wednesday. “It’s never going to be a fist fight.”

Prosecutors argued for a first-degree murder conviction. Smith’s ex-girlfriend testified that Slater handed her his gun before the fight started.

Defense lawyer Thomas Peterson said the evidence did not support the state’s claim that Smith kicked in the door to attack Slater. He said Smith swung the knife at Slater to protect himself.

“Kenneth was walking into a hornet’s nest, basically,” said Peterson in closing arguments.

Smith left the home after the stabbing and surrendered to police weeks later. He is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 24.