Our justice system is trash. Especially when it comes to the poor, Black and Brown among us.
There are countless examples. But I would argue few more egregious and disgusting as what just happened to 18-year-old Lakeith Smith of Alabama.
According to USA TODAY, Smith was just sentenced to 65 years in prison for the death of his friend, 16-year-old friend A’Donte Washington.
But he didn’t kill Washington, an Alabama police officer did.
Smith was convicted under Alabama’s accomplice liability law after rejecting a plea deal that would have put him in prison for 25 years.
In a two-day trial, Smith was convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft for helping with a 2015 burglary of two homes.
During the burglary, several of the teenagers fired shots at the police officer, including Washington. Police charged toward Washington shooting him four times, killing him.
As a part of the accomplice law, Smith was tried as an adult and accused of being criminally responsible for Washington’s death.
But a grand jury cleared the officer of all charges related to Washington’s death.
Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s Judicial Circuit Court ordered three sentences for Smith to be served back to back. 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary, and 10 years for each theft conviction.
Chief assistant district attorney C.J. Robinson said Smith smiled and laughed during the sentencing.
Later, Robinson said, “I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison. We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility of parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”
During the trial, Smith’s lawyer Jennifer Holton said, “The officer shot A’donte, not Lakeith Smith. Lakeith was a 15-year-old child, scared to death. He did not participate in the act that caused the death of A’donte. He never shot anybody.”
The other young men who were involved in the burglary on the night of Washington’s murder, Jadarien Hardy, 22; Jhavarske Jackson, 23; and La’Anthony Washington, 22 entered guilty pleas on the charges of felony murder, burglary, and theft. They are awaiting sentencing.
See what people are saying about this tragedy on the following pages.