Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of a man whose 2005 murder conviction was reversed by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2008.
Tavaris Smith, 33, is accused of fatally shooting his wife, 27-year-old Tiffany Smith, on June 5, 2003.
In opening statements prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor characterized the shooting as intentional and described Smith as a controlling, abusive husband who wanted to know his wife’s whereabouts at all times.
Mark Beberman, Tavaris Smith’s lawyer, said the shooting was a “tragic accident.”
Tavaris and Tiffany Smith were sleeping in the early morning hours of June 5, 2003, when Tavaris Smith awoke to a loud noise, Beberman said.
“He believed someone had broken into his home,” Beberman said.
As he rolled out of bed he heard a gunshot and called out to his wife. She didn’t answer, Beberman said.
He called 911 and then took the couple’s two young children to his parent’s home, still not knowing whether a burglar was in the house, Beberman said.
Beberman explained that after buying a house on Kevin Drive in east Macon, the couple started noticing crime in the neighborhood. Their car was broken into, an air conditioning unit was stolen and their house was burglarized, Beberman said.
In response, Tavaris Smith bought a used gun from a pawn shop for protection.
“He never fired a gun before,” Beberman said, adding he didn’t get any training or an instruction manual.
Tavaris Smith kept the gun underneath his pillow partly so he could protect his family if someone broke in at night and also so he could keep the gun away from his young son, Beberman said.
Beberman described his client as a college educated juvenile probation officer who was between jobs in June 2003. He had interviews scheduled with the Macon police and Macon-Bibb County Fire departments.
Tiffany Smith was a teacher at Brookdale Elementary.
“Tavaris Smith had no reason, no motive, no intent to kill his wife,” Beberman said.
Glen Archie, a retired Macon police officer who was a patrol officer in 2003, testified Tiffany Smith was dead and home alone when officers arrived soon after the 1:45 a.m. 911 call.
Authorities discovered the gun underneath a pillow beside Tiffany Smith’s head and a gunshot wound in the back of her head as she lay in bed. The muzzle was pointed toward her, he said.
Malcor said Tiffany Smith’s mother and childhood friend testified Tuesday that there was a history of physical violence in the Smiths’ relationship.
In opening statements, Malcor told the jury Tavaris Smith struck and kicked his wife. On at least one occasion he pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her. The woman’s mother and friend also testified Tiffany Smith had considered divorcing her husband in the months prior to her death, Malcor said.
Testimony is scheduled to resume today.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.