Screwdriver stabber gets 13 years (2024)

Screwdriver stabber gets 13 years (1)

DECATUR — Corey M. Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of home invasion and was sentenced to 13 years in prison Thursday for a frenzied stabbing attack inflicted on two Decatur women with a screwdriver.

Smith, 51, made the plea as part of a deal with a cap of 15 years, any sentence to be served at 85%. But the defendant, who is deaf, didn’t appear to like the sound of the penalty he was getting as he read the weaving hands of an interpreter signing the proceedings to him while he sat in Macon County Circuit Court.

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His defense lawyer, Caleb Brown, then asked Judge Lindsey Shelton for the opportunity to have a private conference with Smith, which the judge allowed.

Brown returned 12 minutes later to tell her that his client is now thinking over whether he wants to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Shelton agreed to schedule a new hearing July 1 to consider the issue but said she wants to know within the next 14 days whether that hearing will be necessary because of cost issues.

Thursday’s sentencing hearing had three sign language interpreters present and Shelton said the county courts system can’t afford to keep booking their services if they are not going to be needed.

The case against Smith — who had originally been charged with two counts of attempted murder — dates to the night of May 5, 2022 when the defendant, who is more than six feet tall and weighs 250 pounds, had smashed his way into a house in the 2800 block of East Olive Street.

He was seeking his estranged 51-year-old girlfriend who was inside with a female friend, aged 43, and a 15-year-old boy.

A Decatur Police Department affidavit said Smith used the screwdriver to stab the female friend so severely she suffered a collapsed lung. His girlfriend suffered five stab wounds that required surgery to repair. The boy was unhurt but witnessed the attacks and fled the house to get a neighbor to call the cops.

Pleading his case in court after wiping away tears, Smith signed that he had been a drug abuser and was under the influence of drugs when he launched the attack. He pleaded for a sentence of six years and the chance — which the judge granted — to get drug abuse treatment while incarcerated.

“I want to be a better person when I come home and help my mother as she needs me,” he signed to the judge.

Brown said his client had no real history of violence and deserved a chance to turn his life around. “Drugs are not an excuse for behavior,” Brown added. “...But to suggest drugs played no part would be to suggest that Corey right now would willfully walk into anybody’s house and harm them… and we have no evidence of that, judge.”

Prosecuting, Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel said the court had to consider that two victims might have been killed, and asked for the maximum sentence of 15 years.

“Whether it was because of a desire to see them dead or because of the reckless disregard of whether or not they lived or died, the defendant’s actions were likely to cause great bodily harm or death to two separate individuals,” he told the judge.

Passing sentence, Shelton said she noted Smith’s history of drug abuse but said it didn’t take away his responsibility for what he did. “I think he is still trying to blame his substance abuse for what happened, but I don’t find that substance abuse is what caused him to go over and attack the two victims in that residence,” she said.

2023 mugshots from the Herald & Review


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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid



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Screwdriver stabber gets 13 years (2024)
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