Amanda Smith: Not a murderer

I was fully prepared to write today about Amanda Smith avoiding the death penalty by pleading guilty to murder charges. I was fully prepared to accept that Solicitor Bob Ariail didn’t feel like he could get a jury to recommend a death sentence. I was fully prepared to accept that Amanda Smith was going to spend the rest of her life in prison for the smothering death of her son Devon Epps.

Instead, just a few minutes ago, WYFF reported that Ariail agreed to let Smith plead to involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice. What’s more, he let her enter an Alford plea. That means Smith doesn’t even have to say she committed the crime. She only has to admit that there is enough evidence to convict her.

Almost exactly three years, Smith’s seven-year-old son Devon was found dead. According to the coroner, he had been smothered. Smith blamed it on a phantom, bearded carjacker. Most investigators and even casual observers knew Smith’s story didn’t add up.

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I wrote a fair amount about this case over the years. The timing of the plea happened to come while I was out of town. That means I have no way of knowing right now what led to today’s developments. I can only assume Ariail’s case fell apart at some point. In the early going, there never seemed to be any doubt about Smith’s guilt. Now, I can’t help but wonder where everything collapsed.

WYFF’s story currently doesn’t mention a sentence, but involuntary manslaughter carried a max sentence of five years. I don’t recall the sentence for obstruction of justice, but if it’s not too serious, there is a chance Smith won’t spend more than another couple of years in jail.

Update:WYFF updated its site to say Smith received a sentence of eight total years. The station noted Smth’s sentence was one year longer than her son’s life.

Because I’m not in Greenville this week to get all the details I will remain…speechless.

If you’d like to read all the background of the case, see any of the links below.

Previous Coverage:

Reading between the lines of Devon Epps’ death
Devon Epps, Amanda Smith and the difficulties of reporting crime news
Devon Epps: Scene of the Crime?
Rapid Eye Reality coverage of Epps case makes it to print
Devon Epps: Waiting
Devon Epps: Pictures
The Missing Memorial Page
On Being Devon Epps’ Mom
Amanda Smith arrested in death of son Devon Epps

Devon Epps

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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8 Responses

  1. susannah says:

    also speechless. i hate those f@#%ing cases that fall apart (usually due to a key witness) right before trial when not only do you KNOW the defendant is guilty, but ALL the evidence says they are guilty. one of the absolute worst feelings in the world. you know you’ve failed the victim.

    i’m interested to see what you dig up when you get home.

    in the meantime, turn off the internet. you’re on vacation! 🙂

  2. G-Rob says:

    Ping me and I’ll fill you in.

  3. Chris says:

    Brad, I’m from nowhere near your neck of the woods, but I have followed along with your coverage of this case.

    It currently sounds like a complete prosecution clusterfuck, though I will attempt to hold judgment until you have a chance to dig through all the relevant information.

    Until then, enjoy your vacation.


  4. Da Goddess says:

    When I worked pediatrics, the toughest cases I had were those who’d been abused or neglected by parents. Time after time, we’d have restraining orders and all sorts of other protective measures put in place to keep our patients safe. It would break my heart to hear that the same parents would many times regain custody of the kids…only to have the kids come back to the hospital in even worse condition.

    I cannot fathom how difficult it is to build a case against someone who has harmed a child. I only know how difficult it is to physically heal a child once they’ve been harmed…the psychological harm lingers for years if they survive.

  5. Emme says:

    This came as quite a shock to me as well. I’d like to talk with you when you get back. Am I correct in thinking she would have to serve more time had she been convicted of child abuse?

  6. John says:

    This is the trouble with with the system we
    have now if you steal something you go to jail for 20 years but if you kill somebody you get hardly nothing

  7. luis says:

    i know she is not guilty.

  8. Sara says:

    She is guilty. I know her, personally, and she is guilty. And she is also out of prison. Makes me SICK!!!