Thursday, April 24, 2014

Man Who Killed Wife Accepts Plea In Davie Court

12-15 Years

Published Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • Handcuffed and shackled, Gordon Smith heads to the Davie County Courthouse to be sentenced for the murder of his wife. - Photo by Mike Barnhardt

A Mocksville man who admitted killing his wife pleaded no contest to second degree murder in a special court session last week.

Gordon Smith, 60, told officers, “I've done killed my wife,” after Diane Smith, who was 48 at the time, was found shot in the back in the couple's bedroom April 2, 2010.

Assistant DA Greg Brown told Judge Lynn Gullett that early that morning, Smith drove himself to Hugh Chatham Hospital in Elkin, about 30 miles from the couple's home off Ben Anderson Road. He had a gunshot wound to his chest, and Diane's handbag and a gun were found in his car. He told people at the hospital he had shot himself and that “God would not forgive him for what he did,” Brown said.

A relative found her on the floor. Brown said Diane was clothed and partially covered with a blanket and that the telephone cord had been cut and there were items knocked off a nightstand. A .22 caliber rifle was found between the mattress and box spring.

The couple had been married for 23 years with no history of domestic violence, said Smith's attorney, Lori Hamilton.

“This was a happy marriage, and the Smiths were raised and lived in a community with all their extended families. He was employed with Tarheel Paving Company, they were youth leaders in their church, and they were absolutely loved and respected in their community. He was very loved by everyone who knew him. But in the late months of 2009, there was a remarkable change in him,” she said.

He was involuntarily committed to a mental facility in 2010, where he spent about 10 days, and Hamilton said his condition continued to deteriorate from that point on and leading up to the murder. She said he was found to be suffering from a major “depressible disorder, suffering from hallucinations and delusions” including the mistaken belief that he owed a million dollars to the hospital and that people were coming to get it.

Following the murder and during the past three years of incarceration, Smith has had periods of time when he did not wash or shave and was found to have urinated and defecated in his cell, smearing feces on himself and possibly ingesting it, Hamilton said.

Also over the past three years, Smith has been found incapable of proceeding with his case, but was found competent to stand trial earlier this year, and Hamilton told Gullett based on her dealings with Smith, he was competent to go forward.

“He's still extremely fragile, but this is as good as it's going to get with him,” she said.

She produced a rambling letter from Gordon in which he said he loved Diane, that the two called each other from work twice a day, that “we done our own things. She shopped and I deer hunted.” He said he feared he was going to lose his job and after being committed, he was so drugged for the first three days that he didn't know where he was.

He said during that time, he didn't know Diane and that he was hearing voices in his head telling him people were coming to get him.

While Hamilton talked, Smith stood beside her, with a chain around his waist, his handcuffs removed so he could sign paperwork. He fidgeted constantly, moving and snapping his fingers.

Brown said the executrix of the estate asked for items taken into evidence be returned, including Diane's handbag, a note Smith had written that was found in the bedroom, the two guns, Smith's wallet, a notebook, and a Ford Escape. Brown said the gun in Smith's car found at the hospital was the murder weapon and that it belonged to someone else. The ownership of the gun found under the mattress had not been determined, he said.

Gullett sentenced Smith to 151 to 191 months, with credit for the 44 months he has been in prison.

She also ordered the items be returned to the estate and the gun to its owner. Smith will be at Central Regional Hospital until he is transported to prison.