Jerry Jerome Smith, 41, was sentenced to death on April 18 for the murders of three people. It was the third time a Houston County judge had given Smith the death penalty for the same murder convictions.
On October 19, 1996, Smith shot and killed 40-year-old Willie James Flournoy of Dothan, 26-year-old Theresa Ann Helms of Wicksburg, and 29-year-old David Lee Bennett of Midland City. The shootings took place during a burglary, in a residence that police described as a crack house. Reportedly, Smith then attempted to kill a forth person after his gun jammed. Smith was described as a man who ran a drug trafficking enterprise.
Smith had his first two death sentences reversed on appeal. In January, a Houston County jury unanimously recommended the death penalty again. On April 18, Houston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Conaway affirmed the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Smith to death. In Alabama, the primary method of execution is lethal injection.
Smith’s defense attorney Aaron Gartlan argued that his client was mentally retarded, but the state Supreme Court’s opinion said that Smith’s actions of “systematically” killing three people and attempting to kill a forth after his gun jammed were not the actions of a mentally retarded individual.
“In the history of the city of Dothan no one has ever killed three people and tried to kill a forth,” said Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska.
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For the forth year in a row, the DEA is sponsoring National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. On Saturday, April 28, residents of Alabama will be able to safely and properly dispose of old prescription drugs that have expired or are no longer needed.
The Alabama Department of Public Health cites prescription drug abuse as an emerging health issue, and the nations fastest growing drug problem. Many teenagers and young people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends, family, or their home medicine cabinets. The National Drug Take-Back Day was created in an effort to help remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from homes, and to prevent these drugs from ending up in the wrong hands.
In addition to avoiding potential overdoses, it is important to the environment that medicines be disposed of in a proper manner, rather than being tossed into the garbage, flushed down the toilet, or poured down the drain, as they could possibly contaminate water supplies and cause an environmental hazard.
Last year, the DEA collected more than 377,086 pounds of unwanted or expired medications during their third Take-Back Day.
The Dothan Police Department will be participating in the collection. For more locations, or additional information, check www.dea.gov.
If you are facing drug charges for prescription drugs, it is important to know that prosecutors and law enforcement officials will be aggressive. Having an experienced defense attorney on your side is essential to defending your freedom and avoiding catastrophic financial damage.
For more information about National Drug Take-Back Day, click here.
On March 11, Georgia cornerback Branden Smith was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Smith was driving on Highway 431 in Abbeville, about 25 miles north of Dothan in southeast Alabama. Police said that Smith was “following too close and had a tag light that was out.” After pulling the 2007 Dodge Charger over at about 11:30 pm, the officer smelled marijuana. The car was searched, and a “baseball size package of marijuana” was found, according to Henry County Sheriff William Maddox. Smith and his passenger Danze Woods were taken into custody and transported to Henry County Jail.
This arrest means that Smith will automatically be suspended from at least one game this season. Under the athletic association policy, he is required to be suspended for 10 percent of a season, but the coach gets to decide if he will miss one game or two. Most colleges are not as strict.
In January, teammate and starting cornerback Sanders Commings was arrested for domestic violence/simple battery. Coach Mark Richt suspended him for the first two games of the upcoming season.
A conviction on drug charges can be devastating. Drug crimes have harsh penalties. If convicted, a person faces hefty fines and prison time, among other things. Having an aggressive attorney at your side who will fight to protect your rights is vital.
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On March 26, a female Troy University student was the victim in a burglary and sexual assault at Hunters Mountain MHP. The incident occurred at about 3:30 pm. The victim believes she did not know her attacker. Troy Police are aggressively investigating this case.
With the suspect still on the loose, residents of Southeastern Alabama may be worried about their safety. Troy Police are urging residents to report suspicious situations immediately.
In addition, Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ernis urges everyone to practice the following safety measures:
- Use “peepholes” in doors. Do not open your door without knowing who is there, or without having a way to observe the person.
- Always lock the doors in your home and vehicle.
- Try to keep your cell phone close by at all times, in case of an emergency.
- Always be aware of what is going on around you. Stay alert to your surroundings.
- A personal safety or self defense course may help you feel more confident and in-control.
- Don’t walk alone at night, and avoid shortcuts through areas you are not familiar with. When you go out, take a friend with you, and stay together.
- And, as always, if you feel uneasy about a suspicious situation, call the police. If it is an emergency, call 911, and stay on the phone until an officer arrives.
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