Lakeith Smith Got 65 Years for the Death of a 16-Year-Old Killed By Police

Lakeith Smith

Much has been made of the fact that a black teenager laughed openly in court before being sentenced to 65 years in prison.

But the brutal truth of it is that this kid embodies the tragedy of criminal justice in America today, certainly no laughing matter to those destroyed by it.

In early March, Lakeith Smith, 18, was convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft for helping in the 2015 break-ins of two homes in Millbrook, Ala.

Lakeith was only 15 years old when he and a group of cohorts were confronted by police after being accused of breaking and entering.

His friend, A’Donte Washington, was killed by police on that night, shot four times for allegedly brandishing a gun.

Yet, under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Lakeith was not only tried as an adult, but charged in the death of A’Donte, even though it was a cop’s bullet who ended the 16-year-old’s life.

The still unnamed officer was found justified in the killing by a grand jury.

On Thursday, Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama’s 19th Judicial Circuit Court hit Lakeith with 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for two theft convictions, to be served consecutively.

USA Today reports that Lakeith did not take a plea offer of 25 years; and after losing at trial received the heavy penalty.

The prosecutor has made public commentary that Lakeith smiled and laughed through the sentencing, and the judge seemed incensed that the teen didn’t seem appropriately sorry.

“I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” District Attorney C.J. Robinson said. “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 for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”

But his lawyer had another take.

“The officer shot A’Donte, not Lakeith Smith,” Jennifer Holton, countered during the trial. “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.”

Sometimes we wear the mask. Sometimes we laugh so as not to weep.