Jury reaches verdict in Elmore County felony murder trial

Jury reaches verdict in Elmore County felony murder trial
LaKeith Smith during Monday's jury selection process. On Tuesday, he declined the final offer for a 25-year plea deal. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - After deliberation Thursday afternoon, an Elmore County jury has found 19-year-old LaKeith Smith guilty of felony murder, armed burglary and theft in the first and second degree.

During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Kristy Peoples told the jury five teens from Montgomery came to Elmore County strictly to commit a crime in a stolen vehicle.

"They thought they could get away with it easier in Elmore County," Peoples told the jury.

Peoples walked the jury through the crime of felony murder, explaining Smith didn't have to pull the trigger to be found guilty. She stated Smith willingly came to Elmore County to "hit some licks," or break into houses, and during the commission of an armed burglary the fifth suspect, A'Donte Washington was killed.

Peoples drove home the state's laws on accomplice liability.

"An accomplice to the crime is just as guilty," stated Peoples.

Wednesday, the jury viewed the body camera video of the officer that killed Washington. The video showed A'Donte Washington charging the officer with a gun drawn before the officer used lethal force.

Smith's defense attorney Jennifer Holton said her client was not a willing participant in the act that killed A'Donte Washington.

"He, she, or another participant causes the death of any person, that's what you're here to decide," Holton told the jury.

Holton told the jury they weren't dealing with an angel, but the crime didn't meet the charge.

"I told you, you won't see a halo in here," Holton said. "They can put 50 or 100 witnesses in that box, they can't get that he participated in the death of A'Donte."

Smith's co-defendants Jadarrian Hardy, Jhavarske Jackson and Le'Anthony Washington have all pleaded guilty in this case.

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