WETUMPKA, Ala. — A teenager who was tried as an adult under Alabama’s accomplice liability law is sentenced to 65 years imprisonment last Thursday after he rejected an earlier plea deal that recommended 25 years.
In March, in a two-day trial, Lakeith Smith, who is 18 now, of Montgomery was convicted of felony murder, burglary and also theft for having helped the 2015 break-ins of two homes in Millbrook, about 10 miles to Montgomery. He had not killed A’Donte Washington, 16, of Montgomery, who had also been a part of a group of five accused for burglary.
However several others from the group, including Washington, fired shots at Millbrook police officers who had responded Feb. 23, 2015, to a call of theft in progress, as was seen through officer’s body-cam footage. Washington ran to an officer pointing a .38 caliber revolver and opened fire with his police-issued sidearm four times, while killing Washington.
Smith was also one of the accused for criminally responsible and being a party to them that led to Washington’s death, the gist of Alabama’s accomplice law. An Elmore County grand jury had cleared the officer of all counts who fired the fatal shots to stop the act of burglary; the officer’s name had not been released.
On Thursday, Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit Court had handed down 3 sentences that Smith has to serve back to back: murder 30 years, burglary 15 years and theft 10 years each for two theft convictions where he was found guilty.
Smith had been smiling and laughing through the whole sentencing process, said C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney. He had also 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.”
However, accomplice law of Alabama clearly states that if a person is legally responsible for the behavior of another who is involved and has committed a criminal act if that person helps or abets the first person in committing the criminal act. It was not instantly known that how many states maintain 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.”
Besides Smith the other surviving convicted are charged in the same 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.
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