An Alabama teen has been sentenced to serve 65 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Lakeith Smith, 18, was convicted of killing his friend A’Donte Washington, 16, on Thursday (April 5). Smith was offered a plea deal of 25 years but didn’t accept it, receiving 65 years instead.
According to a report from USA Today, Smith, alongside six others, were convicted for their part in the 2015 burglaries of two houses in Millbrook, Alabama. Body cam footage from February 2015 shows officers responding to reports of a burglary in process when the group, including Washington, began firing shots at the police. Washington was reportedly killed when one of the officers ran towards him and fired four shots from a .38 caliber gun.
Despite being just 15 at the time of the crimes, Smith was charged as an adult under the state’s accomplice liability laws, which means that although it was the police who fired the fatal shot, he was ‘criminally responsible for the acts that led to Washington’s death.’
“The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Jennifer Holton, representing Smith told the court.
“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,”
The officer, whose identity has never been revealed, was cleared by a grand jury.
Smith received 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary, and 10 years each for two theft convictions, to be served back to back. Upon receiving the sentencing, he reportedly laughed in response.
“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.”