A man standing trial for the slaying of his father-in-law in 2014 will serve 20 to 25 years in prison after accepting a plea agreement of second-degree murder.
Antaun Keith Smith, who was facing a first-degree murder charge, accepted the lesser charge before the jury finished its third day of deliberations. A deadlocked jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case Thursday.
Smith was on trial for the murder of Walter Lee Jordan, who was killed and later found in a shallow grave in the backyard of a Boykin Drive home in Dudley.
Jordan's body was discovered by Wayne County sheriff's deputies in April 2015, after the 59-year-old man went missing in December 2014.
According to an autopsy report, Jordan was shot four times in the back.
Following the plea agreement, Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced Smith to 20 to 25 years in prison. The judge gave him credit for time served for the three years he has been incarcerated and awaiting trail.
Smith was originally charged with first-degree murder and three counts of financial card theft, 13 counts of financial I.D. theft and five counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. All of the credit card charges were dismissed.
After Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, he shook hands with his attorney Walter Webster, turned and waved to his stepfather and was escorted out of the courtroom by a bailif.
The 11-member jury started its third day of deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Just before 10 a.m., the jury foreperson, speaking on behalf of the jury, sent a note to the judge requesting a break, which was denied.
After meeting nearly two hours, the jury reached a deadlock and was unable to reach a verdict.
After taking a mid-afternoon lunch break, the jury continued to meet, during which time it asked to review a search affidavit and the closing arguments presented by assistant district attorney David Weddle in the trial. Gorham declined to grant the requests.
Jordan's family was afforded the opportunity to speak before Smith was sentenced but declined.
After the trial concluded, family members told the News-Argus that they felt justice was served.
Jordan's three sisters said their older brother was in such poor condition that they were unable to provide him with a proper burial. It wasn't until the case went to trial that they learned, inside the courtroom, that Jordan was shot four times.
Jordan's three sisters, Lorna Harris, Mary Bumphas and Patricia Wahley said it was hard seeing Smith in the courtroom each day during the trial. They all said that God sustained them.
One juror in the case, who did not want to be identified, said that four jurors would not yield to a guilty verdict because they felt the state did not provide enough evidence. Cherly Oakley, who served as the jury foreperson, said she wishes Smith had not accepted the plea agreement of the lesser charge.
"The only thing we had him on was the credit card theft -- that was it," Oakley said.
District Attorney Matthew Delbridge was not available for comment after the trial.