Warner Robins woman guilty of murdering husband

bpurser@macon.comAugust 7, 2013 

PERRY -- Jurors deliberated about four hours Wednesday before finding a Warner Robins woman guilty of murdering her husband July 15, 2011, the same day she was served with divorce papers.

Ebony Passion Smith was found guilty of both malice murder and felony murder. Malice murder is an intentional killing, and felony murder is when someone dies during the commission of another felony.She also was convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and three counts of possession of firearm during the commission of a crime.

Smith admittedly gunned down her husband, 30-year-old Brian Smith, a C-130 aircraft mechanic at Robins Air Force Base, in the hallway bathroom of their Warner Robins home with his semi-automatic .40-caliber handgun.

He died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, but bullets also struck his left hand, right arm and right leg.

Jurors rejected an alternative charge of voluntary manslaughter in the place of murder. The defense contended that Ebony Smith was guilty of killing her husband but not of murder, having acted in a moment of passion when her husband would not tell her where he’d taken their daughter, who was 4 at the time. He was seeking physical custody of the girl, and the couple had argued about that earlier in the day when Ebony Smith was served with divorce papers.

The prosecution contended that Ebony Smith was lying in wait for her husband on that summer day two years ago and that she knew exactly what she planned to do. She then cornered her husband in the bathroom and fatally shot him. When police arrived, they found her lethargic, under the covers in the bed in the master bedroom after she took an overdose of medicine in an attempt to take her own life.

Ebony Smith, with her head down, was quiet Wednesday when the verdict was read.

Judge Edward D. Lukemire set a sentencing hearing for Ebony Smith for 2 p.m. Thursday. She faces a possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During closing arguments earlier Wednesday, prosecution and defense attorneys agreed that Ebony Smith was guilty of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a handgun during the commission of a crime.

But attorneys split on the issue of murder and voluntary manslaughter and one count of possession of a firearm tied to the alleged crime of murder.

Public Defender Nick White argued that Smith was guilty of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. He told jurors that voluntary manslaughter is when someone kills another person out of a “sudden, violent and irresistible passion” as the result of serious provocation.

“He was hiding her child away from her,” White told jurors.

According to the defense, Ebony Smith, who was “loose” on pills she took to get up the nerve to kill herself with her husband’s handgun, confronted Brian Smith after he returned home without their daughter.

But Assistant District Attorney Clif Woody argued that the legal definition of voluntary manslaughter does not apply if there is an interval between the killing and provocation that’s “sufficient for the voice of reason to be heard.”

According to the prosecution, Ebony Smith had plenty of time to cool down between the time Brian Smith left with their daughter and then returned without her. Woody noted that Ebony Smith testified she knew that Brian Smith probably took their daughter to the house of a friend whom Ebony Smith also said she suspected of having a relationship with her husband.

“In this nightmare, Brian had no chance,” Woody told jurors. “He didn’t see it coming.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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