Defense: Warner Robins woman killed husband, but it wasn’t murder

bpurser@macon.comAugust 5, 2013 

Ebony Smith

PERRY -- Prosecution and defense attorneys didn’t dispute whether a Warner Robins woman unloaded a .40-caliber handgun into her husband in 2011 and killed him after he served her with divorce papers.

But the defense contends it wasn’t murder.

Opening statements began Monday in the Houston County trial of Ebony Passion Smith. Smith was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm during a crime.

Her husband, Brian Smith, 30, was found dead inside the couple’s home on Jay Drive off Green Street after he had been shot multiple times in the upper torso July 15, 2011. Officers found Ebony Smith in the back bedroom, where she had attempted suicide by taking medication, police said.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters told jurors that Smith shot her husband with a .40-caliber Glock handgun that held 13 rounds of ammunition, firing it “until it was empty.” The slaying was the same afternoon Brian Smith had her served with divorce papers, Winters said.

The victim’s brother is expected to testify that he found his brother’s body in the hallway near a bathroom. He had gone to the home because Brian Smith was not returning phone calls.

Winters said jurors could expect to hear testimony that Ebony Smith took a bunch of pills after killing her husband.

Public Defender Nick White told jurors that Ebony Smith shot and killed her husband but that he expected the evidence to show she’s not guilty of malice or felony murder. Malice murder is when someone intentionally kills someone, while felony murder is when the death occurs as the result of the commission of another felony.

White said Smith’s husband had gotten “rough” with her, had slapped her in the past and had been guilty of adultery. But she was not upset about that or about the divorce that the couple previously had talked about, White said.

“What upset her was he was seeking custody of their 4-year-old,” White told jurors.

Ebony Smith had been OK with her husband taking their daughter out of the home while they had been arguing. The other child, a 10-year-old boy of hers from a previous relationship, was not at home.

While her husband was gone, Ebony Smith began to think about losing her daughter who was the “apple of her eye,” White said. She became irrational, decided that life was not worth living if he took her daughter, and began to take pills.

Under the influence of the medication, she picked up her husband’s handgun and fired a shot into the bedroom wall upon his return, White said. She became increasingly upset as he repeatedly ignored her and would not answer her pleas about where he’d taken their daughter.

Afraid she would lose the 4-year-old and not knowing where her husband had taken the girl, Smith opened fire on her husband in the hallway bathroom, White said.

“It was a horrible thing, and it was a crime,” White told jurors. “But it was not a murder.”

Testimony is expected Tuesday in the trial presided over by Judge Edward D. Lukemire. The trial is expected to continue at least through Wednesday.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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