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*HTP PAGE 11 5-3-12_Layout 1 5/2/12 12:09 PM Page 1

PAGE 11 - THE HOMETOWN PRESS

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May 3, 2012

Smith sentenced to life behind bars (Continued from Page 1) Smith, 46, is not eligible for parole. He was represented in court by Steve Taylor, who argued that Krystal Jean Baker was named after a distant relative Marilyn Monroe, and that Krystal’s favorite photograph of herself shows her posed in the same famous pose as Monroe. District Court Judge Carroll Wilborn II presided over the case, and applauded the efforts of investigators and law enforcement for getting Smith off the street. District Attorney Cheryl Leick appointed Anahuac attorney Randy McDonald as special prosecutor because she was to be called as a witness against Smith. Leick was among a handful of people who heard Smith confess to the killing in October 2010. Lieck said she understood the complications of hearing Smith confess to the murder first-hand, but decided it was worth the risk to get him to own up to the gruesome killing. Smith told authorities in a jailhouse interview in 2010 that he had sex with Krystal Jean Baker and then strangled her to death. The interview, recorded on audio tape, was played for jurors on Wednesday, April 25, on the second day of Smith’s capital murder trial. Smith recounted on the audio tape how he had oral sex with the 14-year-old girl behind a convenience store in Texas City on March 5, 1996, and that afterwards she became hysterical. “She started freaking out,” he told District Attorney Cheryl Leick, who accompanied investigator Brad Moon, black civil rights activist Quanell X, and evidence officer Sherry Willcox to the jailhouse interview. “She started getting crazy. I tried to refrain her. I kept saying, ‘Please, please, please!’ But she started hitting me and kicking me and that kind of stuff. I grabbed her and choked her and the next thing I knew she stopped breathing.” Jurors listened to Smith confess on audio tape how he then drove to the Trinity River bridge and dumped the little girl’s dead body beneath it. Smith recanted the confession shortly afterwards. His defense attorney said Quanell X coerced Smith into confessing the crime. Despite Smith’s claims he did not have intercourse with Baker, a forensic pathologist with the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office testified earlier Wednesday morning that the girl had been sexually violated to the point she was injured. Another forensic scientist testified on Tuesday, April 24, that DNA taken from Smith in 2010 matched the DNA taken from beneath Baker’s fingernails in 1996. Smith, who was 45 when he was arrested and charged with Baker’s murder, was about 29 the day she died. Baker’s bruised and bloody body was found alongside the unim-

proved shoulder of the road beneath the bridge on March 5, 1996, two weeks after she was reported missing to the Texas City Police. After his arrest, Smith was ordered by the court to submit a DNA sample to authorities. He resisted, Moon said. Moon said he had to walk around behind Smith and hold his head firm while Taylor swabbed Smith’s inner cheek with a cue-tip like device to obtain the DNA sample. During closing arguments Thursday, McDonald recounted how Smith raped and murdered Baker. At one point, McDonald illustrated how Smith wrapped a leather strap around the young girl’s neck and choked the life out of her. Smith cried. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t do that.” he moaned aloud. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” But Baker’s mom didn’t believe Smith was remorseful at all. She and the other family members were allowed to confront Smith in court. Leick read a victim impact statement from the family in which Krystal Jean Baker was likened to a “crystal angel” and a “beautiful, laughing, dancing doll.” Krystal Jean Baker’s brother, Jason Huggins, his eyes welling with tears and choking on his words, asked why his little sister had to die. “I wish you had not done this. I wish we had her back in our life, but we can’t,” he told Smith, who sobbed, “I didn’t mean it, man, I didn’t mean it.” “There were lots of different steps you can take. You could have done something very different,” Huggins said. Mrs. Escamilla then walked up to within feet of Smith and recounted how she had dreamed one day of seeing her daughter in a prom dress, “but a horrible monster came along and now you are gone.” “I know you don’t feel sorry for what you did to my little girl because if you were sorry for what you did you would not have disrespected her here in court. (Smith told authorities he beleived the 13year-old was an 18-year-old prostitute, an allegation the prosecutor scoffed at as fictionalized in order to escape a capital murder conviction.) “I’m sorry for what you did to your family, what you put them through. You’ve humiliated them. Krystal deserved so much better than that. She was my little sunshine. You took my sunshine away. Everytime you see the sun, you remember the scream you heard that day. I hope you hear that scream everytime you look at the sun.” She said Smith broke her children’s and husband’s heart when he killed Krystal. “Why did you hurt my little girl?” she asked Smith. “I would never do that,” Smith responded. Escamilla accused Smith of raping and killing her daughter just because he wanted to have sex. “There’s no such thing as heaven for a man like you.”

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