Alabama teenager, Lakeith Smith (who was 16 when the incident transpired), was tried as an adult for the murder of A’Donte Washington who was only 16 at the time of his death. He was tried under Alabama’s accomplice liability law since Smith was not the one who shot the gun that killed Washington.
The police were responding to a robbery when people in the group, including Washington, fired shots at Millbrook police officers who responded Feb. 23, 2015, to a call of a burglary in progress, according to officer body-camera footage. The officer that Washington ran toward pointing a .38 caliber revolver fired his police-issued sidearm four times, killing Washington. Smith was accused of being criminally responsible for the acts that led to Washington’s death, the gist of Alabama’s accomplice law. An Elmore County grand jury cleared the officer who fired the fatal shots; the officer’s name was not released.
Smith was encouraged to take a plea deal where he was offered 2 years. He rejected the plea deal and ended up getting sentenced to 65 years in prison.
Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit Court handed down three sentences that Smith will serve back to back: 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for two theft convictions. Smith smiled and laughed through the sentencing, said C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney. Smith flashed a broad smile March 14 as he was led out of the courtroom shortly after the verdicts were announced.
“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.”
Alabama’s accomplice law states that a person is legally liable for the behavior of another who commits a criminal offense if that person aids or abets the first person in committing the offense. It wasn’t immediately known how many states have similar statutes.
“The officer shot A’donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Smith’s lawyer, Jennifer Holton, said 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.”
Other surviving defendants charged in the case — Montgomery residents Jadarien Hardy, 22; Jhavarske Jackson, 23; and La’Anthony Washington, 22 — entered guilty pleas to charges of felony murder, burglary and theft, court records show. They are awaiting sentencing.
My opinion only… I think this is totally messed up! I understand they may have been responsible for the robbery that happened, but let’s really break this thing down. Who was responsible for these young boys making the decision to commit a robbery? What mishaps happened in their life to make them resort to that type of violence? Shouldn’t the police and government officials be trained in knowing when to take a shot? I’m sorry, it’s just like the police go through all this training and what are they actually trained in? They get away with MURDER (no pun intended).
What do you guys think about this case? Let’s blog about it.