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Article posted: 11/30/2012 12:01 AM

Algonquin man guilty in murder plot had anxiety disorder, attorney says

By Harry Hitzeman

A former Algonquin attorney faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next week after pleading guilty to plotting the murder of his girlfriend's ex-husband.

Jason Smiekel, 30, handled the woman's divorce and has been in jail since his arrest last August in Elgin.

His attorneys argued in court Tuesday that Smiekel suffered from a "generalized anxiety disorder" -- which is one mitigating factor recognized and considered by authorities -- and the disorder interfered with his judgment.

"The evidentiary part of the hearing is done," defense attorney Ralph Meczyk said Thursday. "We're saying he had a diminished or reduced mental capacity."

Smiekel pleaded guilty earlier this year to using an interstate facility, that being his cellphone, in the murder plot.

Smiekel was arrested after giving a $7,000 partial payment to an undercover agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Authorities said the intended target was the ex-husband of Smiekel's girlfriend.

In court documents, Smiekel admitted to searching for a hit man in July 2011, asking someone if he knew anyone who would commit a murder for hire. The person gave Smiekel the cellphone number of the undercover agent.

Smiekel offered $20,000 to have the ex-husband killed and gave the agent $1,500 and a photo of the man on Aug. 2, 2011, according to court documents.

ATF officials also have said that the ex-husband, who was not injured, had damaging information about Smiekel, who has since lost his law license.

Attorneys will make their final arguments Dec. 4 in Rockford before Judge Frederick J. Kapala issues the sentence, which could be accompanied by a fine of up to $200,000.

"We had a full day of testimony from three experts, two psychologists and one psychiatrist," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John McKenzie.

Meczyk said he has not decided on what sentence he will argue for next week.

Smiekel must serve 85 percent of any prison sentence. His attorneys also might argue for probation.

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