ALMA — An Alma man was found guilty Wednesday of malice murder, felony murder and arson in connection with the Aug. 9, 2009 killing of Jasmine Moore at her home here.
Deion Smith, 24, was convicted by a Bacon County jury after two days of testimony. The jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before returning guilty verdicts on Smith.
Judge Frank Horkan, a senior superior court judge from Moultrie, presided over the trial and handed down sentencing following the verdict. Smith was sentenced to life in prison on the murder charge and 16 years to be served consecutively for the arson charge, said his attorney John R. Thigpen Sr.
Smith’s co-defendant, Tyberious Murchinson, testified against Smith, telling the court he saw Smith use a hammer to beat Moore to death.
Murchinson had entered a guilty plea Friday to aggravated assault and arson and was sentenced to 20 years on the assault charge and 10 years on the arson charge, Thigpen said.
Murchinson was represented by public defender Clay Culp.
Thigpen said Murchinson’s plea deal included him agreeing to testify for the prosecution.
“Murchinson said he witnessed Smith beat Moore to death with a claw hammer because she was pregnant with his child,” said Thigpen. “However, the autopsy showed she was not pregnant. But that was what Murchinson said was the motive.”
Murchinson said the reason he came forward was that he had gone to revival meetings for three nights in a row and “came to Jesus.” Thigpen said Murchinson testified in court that that was his reasoning in turning himself in, that he “got saved” and had a “changed heart.”
The jury was selected Monday and testimony got underway Tuesday, Thigpen said. The state put up several witnesses. Thigpen only called one person, a character witness.
Thigpen said a large crowd turned out for the trial but that there was little reaction when the verdict was announced and when the sentencing was passed.
Assistant District Attorney Alex Markowich prosecuted the case, along with DA George Barnhill.