An Alabama teen will spend the next 65 years behind bars for murder and theft in a case tried under the state’s controversial accomplice law.
Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, was sentenced to 65 years in prison by Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds last Thursday after rejecting a plea deal that would’ve given him just 25 years behind bars instead, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Smith was convicted in March of felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft for his role in the crimes, all for which he received separate sentences. Reynolds then ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.
Smith was charged under Alabama’s accomplice law, “which holds that co-defendants can be guilty of murder if a death occurs when they are committing a crime,” according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The teen, who was 14 or 15 at the time, was part of a group of five who burglarized two homes in Millbrook on Feb. 23, 2015. Local officers responded to calls of a burglary in process, after which several of the co-defendants began shooting as a cop entered the home.
A’Donte Washington, 16, also of Montgomery, and the co-defendants fled the home but continued firing at the officer. Washington, who was armed with a .38 caliber revolver at the time, allegedly pointed his gun at the officer, body cam footage showed. That officer then opened fire on the teen, killing him.
Smith was ultimately charged with Washington’s death, even though he was not directly responsible. The officer who fired the fatal shots was cleared of wrongdoing by an Elmore County grand jury, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The other suspects in the case, Jhavarske Jackson, 23, Jadarien Hardy, 22 and La’Anthony Washington, 22, have pleaded guilty in the case but are still awaiting sentencing.
Smith reportedly smiled and laughed through Thursday’s sentencing and was overheard saying, ‘I don’t have time for this.”
“I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” said C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney. ” … We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it’ll be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”
The judge ridiculed Smith for his lack of remorse in the courtroom last week, prompting his grandfather to beg for leniency from the judge on his behalf.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” Reynolds asked. “He hasn’t said I’m sorry yet. He hasn’t acknowledged to this court that he shouldn’t have done, shouldn’t have come around, in fact, his attitude toward this court and life, in general, has been sour.”