death penalty news—-TEXAS

April 3


Advertisement After confession, Smith sentenced to 3 life sentences

8 months after authorities discovered the body of Daliah Sanders shot to
death in the trunk of a car in Shelby County, her killer, Jimmie Odessa
Smith, was sentenced to life in prison.

District Judge Guy Griffin sentenced Smith to three consecutive life
sentences Thursday for Sanders' murder, the murder of Vance Payne and the
aggravated robbery of Billie Sue Payne, crimes gradually linked to Smith
as his case has unfolded in the months since last summer.

Payne died March 1, 2007, after a family member found him a day earlier,
unconscious in his living room chair, with blunt force trauma to his head.

Three months after Payne's death, his wife, Billie Sue Payne, was accosted
in her home and driven to a bank, where she was forced to withdraw money
and give it to her captor.

Smith confessed to that robbery and to the subsequent abduction, robbery
and murder of Daliah Sanders after he was captured during a manhunt last
August, but authorities had not linked Smith to Vance Payne's killing
before Tuesday.

On Tuesday, FBI agents and Texas Ranger Tom Davis met with Smith to
perform a polygraph test about the circumstances of Vance Payne's death,
which Smith denied any part in. Later that morning, Smith confessed to
that killing after Assistant U.S. Attorney John Malcom Bales offered him
three consecutive life sentences instead of capital punishment, according
to a news release issued Thursday by Shelby County District Attorney Lynda

"Three consecutive life sentences mean that Smith will serve the remainder
of his life in the pen," wrote Russell.

Each life sentence requires 30 years of time served in person before
parole becomes a possibility; each sentence begins only after a previous
sentence has ended, meaning the 26-year-old Smith would be 116 years old
before he could go free.

Russell addressed her previously-stated belief that Smith deserved the
death penalty for his crimes.

"During the investigation of all these cases, it became clear to me that
what I wanted and what I needed to do were not the same thing," she wrote.

Citing limited resources available for a death-penalty prosecution,
Russell said she "reluctantly agreed" with Bales' the decision to offer
life imprisonment.

"Sometimes, as a representative of the people, I must defer to what is
best for others and not for me," she wrote.

(source: Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel)