An Alabama teenager has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
In a report from USA Today, 18-year-old Lakeith Smith was convicted of killing his friend A’Donte Washington on Friday. Smith was offered a plea deal of 25 years but didn’t accept it, receiving 65 years instead.
However, Smith didn’t commit the crime he is being charged for, which stems from an incident that occurred three years ago. In 2015 Smith, then 15, broke into two homes with four other teens in Millbrook, Alabama. Midway through the robbery police arrived and a shootout occurred between the teens and officers, with Washington fatally shot during the altercation.
Although Smith didn’t shoot Washington he was still charged with the murder as an adult under Alabama’s accomplice liability laws. Because of the laws, Smith “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.”
The officer who fired the fatal shots at the 16-year-old, however, was cleared of all charges 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 from Judge Sibley Reynolds, the teen 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.”
However, Smith’s lawyer, Jennifer Holton, argued that the teen didn’t deserve the severe punishment.
“The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” she 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.”
Source: USA Today