An Alabama woman who said she was acting in self-defense when she shot and killed a man who allegedly sexually assaulted her could face life behind bars as her proceeds to trial.
Brittany Smith, 32, is accused of killing Todd Smith, who she claimed raped her twice and assaulted her brother in January 2018. Smith attempted to have her murder charge dismissed using Alabama's Stand Your Ground laws and previously testified she fired the gun at the man in self-defense. However, a Jackson County circuit judge ultimately ruled against her in February, denying a motion to invoke the statute, which permits the use of deadly force in certain situations.
On April 14, appellate courts upheld the earlier ruling against Smith, stating she did not show evidence that “the force she used was justified,” according to a court order obtained by Oxygen.com.
The decision paves the way for a formal murder trial, which will begin June 22. If she's found guilty, Brittany Smith could face life in prison.
On Jan. 15, 2018, Brittany Smith alleges Todd Smith head-butted, choked, and raped her. The pair weren’t related, and were once teenage friends that had recently reconnected on Facebook, investigators said.
A day earlier, Brittany Smith bought a dog from the man, who she let crash at her home. The 32-year-old allegedly tried to warn multiple people she was in danger following the sexual assault, including her mother, who drove her to the store for cigarettes shortly afterward, court papers stated.
“Mom, Todd has tried to kill me literally,” Smith said in a text to her mother. “Don’t act like anything is wrong.”
While at a gas station, Brittany Smith also slipped a note to a clerk with Todd’s name and address on it.
“If I’m dead in the morning, this is who did it,” the message read, according to court records.
Her brother, Chris McCallie, eventually confronted Todd Smith in her sister’s home with a .22-caliber revolver. A scuffle ensued. Brittany Smith said she grabbed her brother’s pistol and fired multiple rounds at Todd Smith after he put her brother in a chokehold.
Her alleged attacker suffered three gunshot wounds. Methamphetamine was found in his system, according to a toxicology report cited in court documents.
Chris McCallie first told authorities he shot Todd, but the following day his sister confessed to pulling the trigger, investigators said. Brittany Smith was indicted by a Jackson County grand jury on March 16, 2018, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
Earlier this year, Judge Jenifer Holt rejected an earlier appeal by Smith, stating that she provided “inconsistent accounts” and had “attempted to alter or destroy evidence,” NBC News reported.
“The defendant did not credibly demonstrate that she reasonably believed it was necessary for her to use deadly force in this situation,” the circuit judge wrote in February. “The court finds that the defendant has failed to prove by preponderance of this evidence that she was justified in using deadly physical force.”
Smith’s attorneys attempted to invoke Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law to justify Todd Smith’s killing. The controversial statute legalizes lethal force to protect oneself against perceived threats or actual threats, according to state law.
“She believed Todd Smith was going to cause serious injury to herself or her brother,” her lawyer Ron Smith said, according to the New Yorker. “He was told to leave. He did not leave. He unlawfully remained.”
But in the end, judges weren’t persuaded. The courts also appeared to question the credibility of Smith's rape accusations.
Brittany Smith sustained 33 wounds, including bite marks on her neck and face, in the alleged sexual assault, criminal justice publication the Appeal reported. She said she scratched Todd Smith “until her fingernails came off,” court records also show.
“I was trying to scratch him wherever I could,” Brittany Smith testified in court. “Maybe his face, maybe his — I don’t know, his chest, his arm.”
However, there was supposedly no semen matching Todd’s found on her body, according to the court order. A judge ultimately concluded that preliminary forensic evidence wasn’t consistent with sexual assault.
“I just feel like I’m not gonna get a fair trial here,” Smith told the New Yorker following the judge’s February ruling. “She saw the pictures of me; he almost beat me to death, he did rape me, and he tried to kill my brother, so how can she say this?”
Her legal team may now appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Alabama. They also plan to file a motion asking the courts to reconsider Holt’s ruling after new forensic evidence has surfaced.
The woman’s attorneys said that a recent lab analysis indicated that DNA found under their client’s fingernails belonged to Todd Smith.
“We have received new evidence as far as scrapings where they had not been sent off to the state lab and the evidence that was under fingernail scrapings did come back to [match] Todd,” attorney Mick James told Oxygen.com.
The state initially failed to test his client’s fingernail scrapings, James said.
In December 2018, a judge deemed Brittany Smith “mentally ill” and ordered her three-month confinement to a mental hospital. She suffers from past addiction issues, court records allege.
“It’s like they want to make her out to be this cold-blooded murderer and she’s not,” Brittany Smith’s mother Ramona McCallie told the Appeal. “It’s like something out of a bad Lifetime movie. … I feel like this is a long nightmare that I wish my whole family could wake up from.”
Smith could still use self-defense to possibly shield herself from a conviction.
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