Suspect James Smith

Suspect James Melvin Smith

Crime of passion? It looks as if a Valentine’s night quarrel among two men and one woman led to fatal violence. 

The Villa Vista Apartments are located in the Lake Highlands vicinity near Walnut Hill and I-635, on a stretch of road called Amanda Lane.

Just after midnight Valentine’s Day (technically Feb. 15), police say James Melvin Smith, a 33-year-old Black male, shot 35-year old Pablo Pedraza, a Latino male, to death, according to police reports.

Witnesses say the fight leading to the shooting involved the two men as well as Smith’s wife, whose name is withheld from the report. It began as an unarmed altercation, until Smith stormed away and returned to the apartment with a gun.

Two unnamed people (one presumably the suspect’s wife) watched Smith kill Pedraza, police note. Those witnesses say Smith fled, and based on their accounts, police tracked him to a woman’s nearby apartment. She alerted officers to Smith’s presence, according to the report. When the officers entered the apartment, Smith emerged from a back bedroom, promptly admitted to the crime and led officers to the murder weapon, which also was hidden in the woman’s apartment (she gave them permission to search the premises). The magazine clip was in Smith’s pocket and his blood-stained shoes were confiscated as evidence.

Smith is now in Dallas County Jail charged with murder, his bond set at $100,000.