Home » 58 years after Selma, Alabama resentenced a young man to 30 years for a murder he didn’t commit

58 years after Selma, Alabama resentenced a young man to 30 years for a murder he didn’t commit

by The Grio

(Adobe Stock Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

A few weekends ago, I took a trip to Selma, Ala., on Bloody Sunday to show my support for the “Justice for LaKeith Smith” coalition and the Smith family. The trip was to raise awareness for the resentencing of LaKeith Smith, a young Black man who, in 2018, was sentenced to 65 years in prison (which was reduced to 55 years in 2019) after a police officer shot and killed his friend during a botched burglary in Elmore County, Ala. I was meeting with LaKeith’s mother, Tina, to pass out information about her son’s devastating case and to participate in a Bloody Sunday remembrance march.

In 2015, LaKeith — who was 15 years old at the time — and a group of friends were involved in the break-ins of two unoccupied homes in Millbrook, Ala., where they were seeking Xbox games and tablet computers. When local police officers arrived at the scene, LaKeith’s 16-year-old friend, A’Donte Washington, was shot by one of the officers. A’Donte died at the scene. Although he was the youngest in the group, LaKeith was denied being tried as a juvenile and was charged as an adult. He was convicted of theft, burglary, and felony murder — a legal doctrine that led to him being charged in the death of his friend. LaKeith has remained imprisoned in St. Clair Correctional Facility since then. On Tuesday, he was resentenced to 30 years by the same judge he faced nearly five years ago, ignoring the victim’s family, the child psychologist and even going further than the recommendation of the district attorney of 25 years. This same judge had announced his retirement back in December but essentially came out of retirement to handle this case.

As I traveled the hour from Montgomery to Selma for the first time, along the same road that thousands of Black activists and…

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