Teenager Rejects 25 Year Deal . . . Judge Gives Him 65 Years

LaKeith Smit_fittedIn Alabama, Lakeith Smith, now 18, was the subject of a troubling sentencing after declining a 25 year deal in a felony murder case. After being convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft, he was given a 65 year sentence.  Smith however did not kill A’Donte Washington, 16.  The police shot Washington as one of the men involved in the break ins.  The teen surprised many by smirking at the sentence and was reportedly overheard “I don’t have time for this.”  It appears however that is the one thing he has an abundance of.

I have always been uneasy with felony murder cases based on the death of a criminal co-conspirator.  In this case, Smith and Washington were connected to two break-ins in 2015 with other men.  On Feb. 23, 2015, Washington ran toward officers while pointing a .38 caliber revolver. He was shot and killed by the officer.  This is different from the classic felony murder case where a culprit is charged for the death of an innocent party.  The rationale behind felony murder provisions was that it would give an incentive to co-conspirators to try to avoid violence not only on their own part but by their cohorts.  They all bear the consequences if a store owner or home owner dies.  The public policy is not as compelling when police shoot one of the felons.

Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit Court gave Smith back to back sentences of 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for two theft convictions.

53 thoughts on “Teenager Rejects 25 Year Deal . . . Judge Gives Him 65 Years”

  1. This story made BBC News.

    Had to explain felony-murder to the civilized world.

    1. This sounds like a bar exam question. Yes he can be charged with felony murder under these facts. On to the next question.

      Question number two. If you reject a deal can you get screwed. Yes. On to the next question.

      1. I’ve never taken a bar exam, so apologies…

        Question number one doesn’t seem obvious to me!
        * Lakeith didn’t murder anyone
        * His criminal partner didn’t murder anyone either (attempted murder though?)

        Is this a novel case of felony murder where neither you nor your criminal partner actually murdered someone?

  2. As someone not versed in criminal law…

    Lakeith serving hard time for burglary, theft, etc., that makes sense to me.

    Let’s also hold Lakeith responsible for the crimes of his partner, A’Donte. Ok fine that makes sense.

    But A’Donte didn’t commit murder, he got into a shootout with police, which would perhaps be attempted murder?

    So Lakeith is charged with murder, even though he didn’t commit murder, and his partner didn’t commit murder either… I’m having a hard time understanding the logic here.

  3. This individual is dangerous. He displays no remorse, which is a hallmark of a psychopath. The judge got the sentence right. Incapacitate him by means of incarceration until he is so old that he probably won’t engage in antisocial conduct. And while we’re at it, force some education into him, whether he wants it or not.

    1. Is it possible he didn’t show remorse because he was sentenced for murder, despite neither him nor his criminal partner having actually committed a murder?

  4. Well, let’s flesh this story out a little. There’s a video, so you can watch LaKeith laughing at it all:

    Teen laughs before judge hands down 65-year prison sentence

    LaKeith Smith, 19, laughed at a judge’s comment during his sentencing Thursday. He’ll spend 65 years in prison for felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft, and third-degree theft.

    An Elmore County jury found Smith guilty of the felony counts in March. He was the only defendant of four that did not plead guilty.

    Smith was tried under Alabama’s accomplice liability law for the death of the fifth suspect, A’Donte Washington, who charged a Millbrook police officer with a gun and was subsequently shot and killed.

    Because Washington was killed during the commission of a felony, all suspects involved were charged with felony murder for his death.

    Judge Sibley Reynolds noted that Smith had shown no remorse for his actions during the entire trial process and took no opportunity to apologize.

    Reynolds overheard Smith say, “I don’t have time for this” while waiting to be called and, and the judge confronted him about his comments.

    “You got plenty of time for this,” Reynolds explained to Smith before handing down the sentence. “When I called the case earlier you said you ain’t got time for this, so I didn’t know if you had time for this now?”

    Smith laughed and lowered his head, stating he didn’t know the judge heard him.

    Reynolds paused and asked Smith, “You just don’t get it do you?”

    “He hasn’t said I’m sorry yet,” the judge went on. “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.”

    Smith’s grandfather made an impassioned plea for his grandson’s freedom, asking the judge to show mercy.

    “Give him a chance to tell you he’s sorry,” the grandfather pleaded with Reynolds.

    “He’s had every opportunity,” the judge responded. “I’ve asked two or three times today.”

    “Are you sorry?” the grandfather asked Smith then responded he was sorry for his actions and sorry for his “homeboy”, referencing A’Donte Washington.

    Chief District Attorney C.J. Robinson noted Smith’s attitude in court.

    “After the jury verdict, he was laughing. Today in court he was laughing,” Robinson said. “I have yet to understand what was so funny.”

    Robinson explained Smith was a young man with his whole life ahead of him but now has to pay the consequences for some very bad decisions.

    “Standing there in court, I couldn’t help but have compassion for his grandfather, for his family,” Robinson went on, “because of his stupidity, they have lost him for 65 years.”

    Smith’s co-defendants Jadarrian Hardy, Jhavarske Jackson and Le’Anthony Washington have all pleaded guilty in this case. Hardy is scheduled for sentencing in May. Washington is awaiting a new sentencing date, and Jackson was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

    Now three of the defendants will stand trial for other crimes in Montgomery that reportedly occurred before they arrived in Elmore County. Jackson and Hardy are charged with murder in Montgomery County and Washington is charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping.


    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. LaKeith

      What language do these names come from?

  5. I got one for the posters. Remember the Wash DC Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo?

    Lee was only 17 years old when he & his mentor John Allen Muhammad 41, shot 10 people dead. John was executed & Lee is serving life in prison. But now Lee wants a reduced sentence so he can get out.

  6. “Gang breakins in dwellings at night with shootouts resulting in death”

    Was he a veteran?

  7. He was 15 at the time of the crime and that qualifies him as a “boy” at the time of the crime. I am stunned at the implication of racism in your comment. I do believe Mr. Smith was let down by counsel. Excluding the murder, he was convicted of burglary and 2 counts of theft, The total sentence for those alone, excluding any consideration of the felony murder, is 35 years. When you are facing 65 years it would seem wise (to me) to accept the 25 year bargain. So the question arises as to the competence and effectiveness of counsel.

    1. Never underestimate the hubris of criminals that have nothing but time on their hands, waiting for trial, talking to their fellow inmates who all view themselves as legal experts. Many an accused has failed to listen to their lawyers and ended up right where this guy is: in prison for life. We see it all the time, and lawyers try their best. You can’t fix stupid, and arrogant stupid is irreparable.

  8. Liberty2nd, I think this guy should be given a Suspended sentence so you can take him home and he can live with you.

  9. Since to my knowledge most states allow for the unsealing of past juvenile convictions when a major assault felony results in conviction, surely his offender score was high. Given the behavior alleged, this convict’s offense was not a one-off or a one time mistake. Thus, a great sentence could be expected.

    I tend to view sentences for recidivist, violent offenders having a need for incapacitation of the offender. Whether he reforms or not is a secondary question as incapacitation removes him from society until he is no longer a physical threat to others. Misdemeanants are a different case. But then again a simple assault can elevate itself into a manslaughter case if a victim dies unexpectedly from say just being punched in the stomach. Yet in this convict’s case, getting into a shootout with the police is an entirely different mindset.

    1. I’m not a big believer in the mathematical theory of sentencing. I think you go by the threat to the public, not how many priors. That’s in the judges discretion and in this case the kid got off light. Gang breakins in dwellings at night with shootouts resulting in death is the very definition of threat to the public.

      1. I agree with you that a person’s threat to the public should be a greater influence during sentencing than many other aggravators. Though one aspect of having a determinate sentencing grid is that there can be more consistency. The trade-off is as you inferred an artificial means to address a human condition.

        We ditched our adult parole system around 1983 for all new offenders. One of the reasons was the public’s frustration on either side, either too lenient or too inconsistent. A judge has a range within the grids but if they vary outside the parameters the sentence is subject to appeal by either party. Unfortunately, instead of just one grid for offense | offender score now it has morphed into a different grid for sex / kidnapping offenses and another for drug offenses and probably another one in the future. Then the legislature put in such a mixture of fines and sentence increases that actually requires a computer algorithm to calculate. It’s becoming absurd. It is good to keep the bureaucracy afloat. Good for some, but not me.

        Though the grids might provide a veneer of consistency, it is in essence arbitrary. What determines that a Mortgage Fraud crime should be a Seriousness Level III and at the same level as Assault of a Child in the Third Degree while the crime of Unlicensed Practice as an Insurance Professional is higher at level IV?

        1. I think you appoint a judge for a reason. If his or her judgement isn’t sound why have him or her. Nobody knows the case better and justice ought to prevail over consistency . Emerson was right about consistency: it’s the “hobgoblin of little minds adored by little statesmen, philosophers and divines.”

  10. Racism, that insidious creeping disease that affects everyone, to some degree or another. It can be found on this blog and festering in the mind of this sadistic judge. But, hey, statistics prove that this ‘boy’ got what he deserved.

    1. Prove it. Unsupported charges of Racism is what you say when you can’t refute an argument by a more skilled debater. It’s like waiving a white flag.

      1. messpo-When it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, the judge is a little duckish.

        Why Darren, you sound like a snowflake, or a progressive, or a politically correct type; take your pick. Must be that ‘Left Coast’ thing. I calls em like I sees em. The kid’s Black, sentenced to 65 years, for driving the getaway car, supposedly complicit in the death of an innocent bystander, wait no, one of the perps attacking the cops…. DUH. Perhaps there’s more to the story. Perhaps he spit on the judge’s shoe.

    2. Racism might be part of the problem but race is less significant than poverty, desperation, and learning disorders in this type of crime. Learning disorders can be from lead in water, fetal alcohol and fetal drug brain impacts, poor sanitation, injuries, poor nutrition, – all things that happen more to people in poverty.

      1. Chris

        We should be tough on crime AND tough on the causes of crime- like you said. The lack of will to do so is evidence of a less- than-enlightened society.

  11. Part of the deal was that he probably gave up the right to appeal. Now that route is open still.

  12. Smith was the getaway driver sitting in a stolen car with a loaded gun

    Officers say they went to check on a house and arrested one of the teens sitting in a stolen car out front with a gun. There was a shootout with 4 other teens who had guns & fired.
    How Can One Be an Accessory to a Felony Crime?

    The elements for one to be an accessory to a crime varies from state to state. In order to convict a person for being an accessory to a felony, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following four elements:
    • The crime was committed by another individual
    • The defendant assisted, helped, encouraged, or aided the other person in the commission of the crime
    • The defendant acted with intent for the crime to be completed

  13. The Judge reasonably figured that it would take La’Keith 65 years to earn his GED, so that he could turn his life around.

    1. DB:
      No, that’s what he and his posse planned to exact on his victims. What he got is a mild equivalent of justice. If you disagree perhaps you’d like visit from La Keith here and his pals on some enchanted evening in the wee hours.

        1. No but for eons we have deemed the accomplice guilty of any death they encourage by their participation in a felony. The guy who hires the hit man to kill his wife doesn’t kill anybody either. Sympathetic to him too?

              1. The police killed Mr. Washington.

                The law in Alabama is cruelly wrong.

          1. Chris

            We should be tough on crime AND tough on the causes of crime- like you said. The lack of will to do so is evidence of a less- than-enlightened society.

          2. mespo

            It’s that “deeming” part of your argument which makes it apples and oranges to compare this fact situation to your hired gunman hypo.

  14. On the one hand the felon rejected the deal for 25 and took the 65. Being a legal adult ……

    Of course what was the deal.

    Interesting but with that sort of the record anything from 25 to actually serve to 65 seems ballpark. I wouldn’t like to see a life sentence they get out too soon on that one.

  15. The sentence is too high. The judge needs to be removed from the bench and from practicing law. Is the judge up for re-election? I hope the victim here (defendant) has some friends who can drive by and take aim.

        1. And sometimes we make comments in jest. Or is that “gest”? We were not told by the topic here all the facts considered by the Judge. Such as prior arrests and convictions of the defendant. But if two shoplifters take some candy and one is shot by a cop then the other shoplifter should not get 65 years in prison. So all the facts matter.

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