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Smith v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 19, 2015

WILLIAM SMITH, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, APPELLEE

Released for Publication March 12, 2015.

ON APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT. HONORABLE CHARLES LOUIS CUNNINGHAM, JR., JUDGE. NO. 11-CR-002547-02.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Annie O'Connell, O'Connell Law Office.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Jack Conway, Attorney General of Kentucky, Dorislee J. Gilbert, Special Assistant Attorney General.

OPINION OF THE COURT bye JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM. Minton, C.J.; Abramson, Cunningham, Keller, Noble, and Venters, JJ., sitting. All concur, except Noble, J., concurs in result only.

OPINION

Page 284

CUNNINGHAM, JUSTICE.

On the evening of August 14, 2011, Appellant, William B. Smith III, and Quentin L. Wilson fired a barrage of gunshots into a crowd of people gathered at Shawnee Park in Louisville. Antonio Lamont Anderson died as a result and two others were seriously injured. Several vehicles were also damaged by the shooting. A bullet lodged in the trunk of one nearby vehicle, narrowly missing Mr. Anderson's four-year-old daughter who was asleep in the backseat. Anderson's pregnant fiancee was also in the car.

Louisville Metro Police Officer Chad Johnson was present during the shooting. Officer Johnson testified that after hearing gunshots, he witnessed Wilson standing with his arm outstretched, firing a handgun into the crowd. Johnson also testified that he saw several other muzzle flashes near Wilson. Wilson, Smith, and another individual involved in the shooting fled the scene on foot and Officer Johnson followed. They were eventually apprehended and arrested. Police officers re-traced the path along which Smith and his confederates fled and discovered four handguns, three of which were found together underneath a broken tree branch. A ballistics

Page 285

expert determined that several of the projectiles and casings recovered from the crime scene were fired from the recovered handguns.

Smith and Wilson were indicted and jointly tried. The other individual involved in the shooting was a juvenile. A Jefferson Circuit Court jury convicted Smith of complicity to murder, two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

The jury recommended a sentence of 20 years' imprisonment for the murder conviction, 10 years for each attempted murder conviction, four years for each wanton endangerment count, and three years for the tampering conviction. The jury further recommended that the murder and attempted murder sentences run concurrently with each other and that the wanton endangerment and tampering sentences also run concurrently with each other. These two sets of sentences were to be served consecutively for a total sentence of 24 years' imprisonment. The trial court sentenced Smith in accord with the jury's recommendation. Smith now appeals his judgment and sentence as a matter of right pursuant to § 110(2)(b) of the Kentucky Constitution. Two issues are raised and addressed as follows.

Gang Expert Testimony

Smith argues that the trial court committed reversible error when it admitted the testimony of Louisville Metro Detective Gary Huffman. Although Smith asserts that this was improper expert testimony, his primary contention is that ...


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