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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