Lakeith Smith Got 65 Years For The Death of a 16-Year-Old Killed By Police

Much has been made of the fact that a black teenager laughed openly in court after being sentenced to 65 years in prison.
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Teen laughs, but unamused judge hands down 65-year sentence

An Alabama teen laughed at a judge’s comment during his sentencing hearing Thursday.
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But the brutal truth of it is that this kid embodies the tragedy of criminal justice in America today, certainly no laughing matter to those destroyed by it.

In early March, Lakeith Smith, 18, was convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft for helping in the 2015 break-ins of two homes in Millbrook, Ala., in February 2015.

Lakeith was only 15 years old when he and a group of four others were confronted by police after being accused of breaking and entering.

His friend, A’Donte Washington, was killed by police on that night, shot four times for allegedly brandishing a gun.

Yet, under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Lakeith was not only tried as an adult, but charged in the death of A’Donte, even though it was a cop’s bullet who ended the 16-year-old’s life (the still unnamed officer was found justified in the killing by a grand jury).

On Thursday, Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit Court ruled that Lakeith will serve consecutively 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for two theft convictions.

USA Today reports that Lakeith did not take a plea of 25 years, and so after losing at trial, received the heavy penalty.

The prosecutor made public comment of the fact that Lakeith smiled and laughed through the sentencing, and the judge seemed incensed that the teen didn’t seem appropriately sorry.

“I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” District Attorney C.J. Robinson said. “We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”

“The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Smith’s lawyer, Jennifer Holton, countered during the trial. “Lakeith was a 15-year-old child, scared to death. He did not participate in the act that caused the death of A’Donte. He never shot anybody.”

Sometimes we wear the mask. Sometimes we laugh so that we do not weep.

Teen turns down plea deal for 25 years in prison, gets 65 years instead

Earlier story

In her closing statement to the jury in the Lakeith Smith felony murder trial, Assistant District Attorney Kristy Peoples said Millbrook was picked intentionally by the perpetrators of the crimes that led to the death of 16-year-old A’Donte Washington.
“We need to show this man we’re not going to tolerate this kind of violence in Elmore County,” she said, turning the point at Smith, sitting at the defense table.

“You need to hold someone responsible who brings this kind of crap to Elmore County. You had five guys come to Elmore County to ‘hit some licks’ because they thought it was easier to get away with crimes here,” she said.
Peoples then went on to explain that under Alabama’a accomplice law, Smith is guilty of the murder of Washington even if he didn’t fire the fatal shots.
Smith was 15 on Feb. 23, 2015 when he allegedly broke into two homes in Millbrook. He was about two weeks away from his 16th birthday. His attorney, Jenn Holton, has made reference to Smith’s age throughout the three-day trial. He faces felony murder, burglary and two counts of theft charges.
During her closing statement to the jury, she too dealt with the accomplice law.
“The law reads that you have to be a participant in the crime to be guilty,” she said. “The Millbrook officer fired the shots that killed A’Donte. The officer was not a participant in these crimes. It is a tragedy, that a young kid was killed. It will be an injustice if you hold Lakieth responsible. Every witness that the state put on testified that Lakieth did not fire the shots that killed A’Donte.
“The little boy that’s dead, did any of the participants of this crime cause that?”
The jury is expected to begin deliberations about 3 p.m.

 

A Montgomery teenager has been sentenced to 65 years in prison on murder and theft related convictions, in a case tried under the state’s accomplice law.

Lakieth Smith, 18, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds for his role in the crimes. Smith was convicted in March, following a two-day trial. Reynolds handed down a 30-year sentence for felony murder, a 15-year sentence for burglary and two 10-year sentences for the two theft convictions. Reynolds then ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.

More: Lakeith Smith guilty of murder, other charges in accomplice law case

Smith smiled and laughed through the sentencing, said C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney. Smith flashed a broad smile as he was being led out of the courtroom in March shortly after the verdicts were announced. Smith, midtrial, turned down a plea offer that included a recommend sentence of 25 years on all charges.

“I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” Robinson said. “We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”

Smith was charged under Alabama’s accomplice law, which holds co-defendants can be guilty of murder if a death occurs when they are committing a crime, even if the accomplice is not the person who directly caused the death.

Five people broke into two homes in Millbrook on Feb. 23, 2015. Smith was part of that group. Millbrook police officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress. One of the co-defendants began shooting at an officer as he entered the home. Testimony brought out that several of the co-defendants fired at the officer. The suspects left the home and ran into the backyard, still firing at the officer.

A’Donte Washington, 16, also of Montgomery, ran out of the backyard through a gate in the privacy fence. Police officer body camera footage played in court during Smith’s trial showed he was armed with a 38 cal. revolver. Washington ran toward another officer, pointing the gun at the officer, the footage shows. The officer fired his sidearm four times, striking and killing Washington.

It was Washington’s death that Smith was charged with. An Elmore County grand jury cleared the officer that fired the fatal shots.

The other co-defendants in the case; Jhavarske Jackson, 23, Jadarien Hardy, 22 and La’Anthony Washington, 22, all of Montgomery, entered guilty pleas on charges of felony murder, burglary and theft, courthouse records show. They await sentencing.