Jury convicts Smith of second-degree murder
HUNTINGTON -- Constance "Kay Kay" Smith's family and friends rejoiced with tears, hugs and praise Wednesday, as her husband and now convicted killer Harry Lee Smith continued to insist her shooting death was an accident.
The jury, consisting of eight men and four women, deliberated for approximately five hours over two days in convicting Harry Smith of second-degree murder. He faces a possible 10- to 40-year prison term at sentencing next month before Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson.
The shooting happened July 30, 2011, at the couple's home in the 6100 block of Birkewood Road near East Pea Ridge. Prosecutors argued Harry Smith intentionally pointed the gun at his wife's head and pulled the trigger, striking the 62-year-old's face.
Monica McMillion, the victim's half-sister, was confident the jury would return a conviction, although she wondered about the degree of guilt its members would decide upon.
"It was just total relief," she said of the verdict. "He decided to do that. It wasn't an accident, and I think they felt the same way."
Harry Smith, 69, insisted the shooting was an accident as deputies escorted him from court.
"I definitely disagree with it," he said of the verdict. "I've always been sorry for what has happened."
Assistant prosecutor Sean Hammers argued Tuesday that physical evidence, Harry Smith's emotionless reaction to his wife's death and testimony of prior abuse Constance Smith endured pointed to an intentional killing.
Hammers described the jury's verdict as just. He had pushed for a first-degree conviction, but was pleased with the second-degree finding, saying it still showed Harry Smith acted with malice and intent as opposed to an accidental shooting or one committed in the heat of passion.
Defense attorney David Lockwood, who Tuesday argued the shooting was "a crazy, stupid accident," described himself as shocked after court.
"You've got a situation where somebody has lost their life, and juries look at that pretty harshly and I think that's what they did here," he said. "There was someone killed, and they expect somebody to pay for it."
Pamela McCoy had testified on Harry Smith's behalf and returned to court Wednesday to hear the jury's verdict. She was among those defense witnesses who described the Smiths as a happy couple without noticeable problems.
"It's a sad situation," she said. "I'm really sorry the verdict turned out the way it did ... It was a very complicated case. It was a sad case."
McMillion and family friend Charles "Butch" Burns both praised the Cabell County Sheriff's Office for its investigation and the efforts of prosecutors for Wednesday's verdict. They said it brings some closure to a long nearly two and a half years.
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