Much attention has been paid to 18-year-old LaKeith Smith who laughed in an Alabama courtroom before a judge handed down a 65-year-sentence for felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft, and third-degree theft.
However, Smith did not kill anyone.
According to reports, when Smith was 15 years old, he along with a group of four friends were confronted by Montgomery police who accused them of breaking into homes in the area. Smith’s friend, 16-year-old A’Donte Washington, reportedly brandished a gun, and was shot four times by a police officer and died.
Yet, under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Smith was tried as adult and charged in Washington’s death despite him being killed by a cop. A grand jury found the officer–whose name has been withheld from the public–justified in the killing.
WFSA 12 News reports that Smith said, “I don’t have time for this” while waiting for Judge Sibley Reynolds to hand down a sentence. Angrily, Reynolds replied, “You’ve got plenty of time for this.” Smith laughed and lowered his head, stating he didn’t know the judge heard him.
Smith’s grandfather however made an emotional plea to Reynolds begging for his grandson’s freedom. “Give him a chance to tell you he’s sorry,” the grandfather asked.
District Attorney C.J. Robinson was in agreement with the judges sentencing. “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.”
However, Smith’s lawyers felt the length of time behind bars was unjust. “The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Holton said. “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.”
Smith turned down a 25 year plea deal and received 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for the two thefts.