Public Safety

Man accused of trying to kill wife in Dubuque gets 25 years under Alford plea

Woman was stabbed multiple times, police reports say

Clifford Smiley
Clifford Smiley

A Chicago man accused of trying to kill his estranged wife was sentenced Monday in Dubuque to 25 years in an Iowa prison.

Court documents show Clifford B. Smiley, 51, entered an Alford plea on a charge of attempted murder. With an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction.

Smiley initially faced multiple charges, including attempted murder, stemming from two separate but related incidents that occurred on April 1 in Dubuque.

According to arrest reports, police responded at about 11:40 a.m. to a disturbance at a Fas Mart at 2175 Central Ave. in Dubuque.

When they arrived, officers said they observed Smiley on top of a woman — who was later identified as his estranged wife — in the store’s parking lot. Before the officers could act, they said a witness intervened, pulling Smiley off the woman. Police said the woman had been stabbed multiple times.

Witnesses reported seeing Smiley “strangle, strike and stab the victim, all while the victim was pleading for him to stop,” according to the report.

The woman was transported to Finley Hospital where doctors reported she had suffered five stab wounds — three to the neck and two the chest. One of the blows to the neck severed the woman’s trachea and cut into her larynx, officials said. Doctors said the wounds would have been fatal without medical intervention.

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During an interview with police, Smiley allegedly admitted to stabbing the woman after he discovered another man in her home.

The police report states Smiley took a bus to Dubuque that morning and went to his estranged wife’s house, near the Fas Mart. Police said Smiley assaulted the man at the home, punching him in the face, and the man left.

The report states Smiley then grabbed a knife from the kitchen and he and the woman walked to the convenience store, where Smiley claimed “he just snapped and began stabbing (the victim) until someone pulled him off her.”

After his arrest, police said Smiley was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque so police could collect a blood sample.

As medical personnel attempted to collect the sample, police said Smiley grabbed the needle out of a lab technician’s hand and fled the room on foot, making his way to the ambulance port while yelling that he was HIV positive.

Once officers got him cornered, they said Smiley refused to drop the needle, instead yelling “I am going to stab myself, kill myself and I will stab you, too,” according to the report. Police deployed “personal defense spray” twice during the confrontation, the report states, and Smiley finally submitted.

Between the two incidents, he was charged with attempted murder, escape from custody, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, domestic abuse assault, willful injury causing serious injury, and going armed with intent.

As part of his plea agreement, all but the attempted murder charges were dismissed.

The deal was brokered last month, but the Telegraph Herald reported a Dubuque judge initially rejected the deal when Smiley refused to admit in court that he tried to kill the woman.

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Smiley’s plea agreement calls for him to serve at least 70 percent of his 25-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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