03/05/06 — Son who killed father up for parole

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Son who killed father up for parole

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on March 5, 2006 2:10 AM


News-Argus Staff Writer

A Goldsboro man sentenced to life in prison in 1992 for the murder of his sleeping father is being considered for parole by the N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

David Wayne Smith, who was then 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Wayne L. Smith on April 17, 1991.

Smith's guilty plea came July 8, 1992, after a jury had been chosen to hear the case and the state's first witnesses had testified that the defendant had plotted the murder for days and showed his friends the body after the shooting.

After the plea, the defendant's lawyer, Gene Braswell, who argued for a lesser sentence, said Smith had been driven to kill his father after many years of physical and verbal abuse.

Assistant District Attorney James Copeland, who prosecuted the case, argued that Smith, who is now 32, could have escaped the abuse by living with his mother in Chapel Hill after the couple divorced.

After hearing both sides, Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw sentenced Smith to life in prison.

The son was arrested by Goldsboro police after the father's badly decomposed body was found under the family's boat. The body was found four days after the shooting by Smith's ex-wife, Linda B. Smith, and their daughter, Melissa Ann Smith, who were visiting. The women had detected a foul smell coming from the yard.

Police said the son had shot his sleeping father five times in the head with a 22-caliber handgun and then dragged the body across the lawn to the boat. The father and son had lived together on Cedar Road.

Authorities claimed that Smith had conspired with three friends to kill his father. Just as David Smith's original trial was starting, one friend, Jimmy Ray Holmes Jr., now 32, pleaded guilty on March 23, 1992, to conspiracy and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Braswell then asked for a delay in Smith's trial. The trial was delayed further when Copeland ran unsuccessfully for Superior Court judge and the lead police investigator became ill.

After Smith pleaded guilty, a second friend, David Clayton Waltz, now 32, of Goldsboro, pleaded guilty Nov. 30, 1992, to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to nine years in prison. The third man, Christopher Ray Passer, now 32, of Goldsboro, was acquitted Oct. 28, 1992, of conspiracy and accessory after the fact of murder.

The parole commission now is collecting information for Smith's possible release under the mutual agreement parole program, or MAPP, a scholastic and vocational program. MAPP is a three-way agreement among the commission, the N.C. Division of Prisons and the offender.

Information gathered from the public for and against parole will be considered by the commission in making its decision. Anyone who wants to comment was asked to write to the commission at 2020 Yonkers Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4222, or to call 1-919-716-3010.

The state's current structured sentencing law eliminated parole for crimes committed after Oct. 1, 2004. But the commission has the responsibility of paroling offenders who were sentenced under previous guidelines.