Board denies parole for Smith

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2007

Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden said a new trial for Thomas Wesley Smith would be a &#8220waste of taxpayers money” and all indications from the Attorney General's office are that they agree with Harden's assessment.

Smith, currently incarcerated in Montgomery's Kilby Prison for the 1997 murder of Tracy Killough, was denied parole on Wednesday.

In 1999 Smith pleaded guilty to stabbing Killough to death at her home in Shackleville and was sentenced to 99 years for murder and 15 years for burglary.

Smith's plea agreement stipulated that he would not apply for parole until he had been incarcerated a minimum of 30 years. Because he applied for parole early, the state could re-present Smith's case to the Butler County Grand Jury.

Family members of Smith told WSFA reporter Marc Bullock his reason for applying for parole is because he's innocent of the murder and wants a trial.

&#8220Thomas Wesley says that he is not guilty,” said Smith's mother, Marilyn Smith. &#8220I believe him and his family believes him.”

Smith's family said his confession was coerced from him.

Harden - who investigated the murder - disagreed.

&#8220He stood before the judge and he admitted his guilt,” said Harden. &#8220But in a case like this there are victims on both sidesŠthe Killough family and the Smith family. Our hearts go out to both families. But he (Smith) knew what he was doing.”

Harden called the murder of Killough the &#8220most brutal” he had investigated in 29 years of law enforcement.

&#8220I've seen a lot of homicides, but that one was the worst,” he said.

Smith pleaded guilty to stabbing Killough multiple times on January 22, 1997. Investigators said the 29-year-old mother of three interrupted Smith during an attempted burglary.

Weeping, 16-year-old Shanna Killough, Killough's stepdaughter who was five at the time of the murder, told parole board members of finding her stepmother's body.

&#8220Sometimes I think I could have helped her or did something, but I know I couldn't have because I was so young,” she said, as reported by WSFA. &#8220So this is my way of helping her get justice.”

Attorney General Troy King praised the board's decision.

&#8220This was one of the most brutal and savage crimes in Butler County history,” said King.

&#8220Thomas Wesley Smith agreed to his sentence.

His victim and her family were dealt their sentence without choice - instead, Smith imposed it when he murdered their mother and daughter.

It is always tragic when we must come before this board.

It means terrible suffering has brought us here.

Today, justice was protected.”

Smith will next be eligible for parole in five years.