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An Alabama woman who fatally shot her accused rapist has pled guilty to his murder following a series of prickly pretrial proceedings that spanned several years.
Brittany Smith, who gunned down Todd Smith hours after he allegedly sexually assaulted her in January 2018, was handed a 20-year-sentence to be split between prison and house arrest, according to a sentencing order obtained by Oxygen.com. Todd and Brittany weren’t related, and were teenage friends who had recently reconnected on Facebook, investigators said.
The 32-year-old will receive credit for time served in a county jail during pretrial proceedings, her lawyers said. She will be released from prison in roughly seven months and will serve the remainder of her sentence confined to her home.
"It's a little disappointing. I thought we had a really good case to try," her attorney Ron Smith, also of no relation, told Oxygen.com on Monday.
Nonetheless, the Alabama woman's lawyer called the Jackson County District Attorney's deal a "generous offer." His client was facing life behind bars if convicted, had the case gone to trial. The case was slated to begin next month.
"She was willing to do it largely just to kind of know what the outcome is going to be rather than putting it in the hands of the judge and jury," Ron added.
Earlier this year, Brittany unsuccessfully attempted to have the murder charge tossed out after invoking Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows the use of deadly force in particular situations. Circuit judge Jennifer Holt, however, disagreed, and ruled against Brittany in February, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
"I thought we should have won that," Ron explained. "I don't know how you get around the evidence."
He claimed that his client suffered 33 wounds to her body the night of the deadly shooting.
"It was undisputed she was beaten near to the point of death to the point were capillaries burst," Ron added.
Holt, meanwhile, contended that Brittany's version of events wasn't credible. Brittany, the judge wrote, gave "inconsistent accounts" and attempted to "alter or destroy" evidence of the night Todd was fatally shot.
Despite never going to trial, the case garnered international headlines, particularly surrounding how victims of domestic abuse, specifically women, are treated by the justice system when accused of killing their alleged abusers.
“I just feel like I’m not gonna get a fair trial here,” Brittany told the New Yorker earlier this year.
On Jan. 15, 2018, Brittany claimed Todd, an old acquaintance she had recently reconnected with on social media and was staying at her home, strangled and raped her.
“Mom, Todd has tried to kill me literally,” Brittany later wrote in a text to her mom, according to court documents.
Following the alleged sexual assault, Brittany also tried warning a gas station clerk she was in danger while buying cigarettes.
“If I’m dead in the morning, this is who did it,” Brittany wrote in a note to the convenience store employee, according to court records.
Brittany’s brother, Chris McCallie, armed with a .22 caliber revolver, eventually cornered Todd at his sister’s home where a physical altercation unfolded. Brittany, who gained possession of her brother’s firearm, fired several rounds at Todd, who had allegedly overpowered McCallie.
Months later, appellate courts upheld the earlier ruling surrounding the Stand Your Ground argument, saying Brittany did not conclusively prove “the force she used was justified,” further court documents obtained by Oxygen.com show.
The decision set off a chain reaction of appeals, filed on behalf of Brittany's legal team, including one motion which requested Holt “recuse” herself from the case, alleging she was biased, according to another court petition. The judge later refuted the accusations, AL.com reported.
Holt was also unswayed by DNA evidence presented by Brittany's defense, which found fingernail scrapings that matched the DNA profile of Todd, which were indicative of assault, court papers stated.
Brittany's mother lamented the guilty plea.
“My baby girl doesn’t deserve this,” a tearful Ramona McCallie told AL.com.
The 32-year-old’s boyfriend also firmly feels the 20-year-sentence was unjust.
“She was scared,” Michael Steele told the outlet. “She was backed against the wall, afraid she was going to spend the rest of her life in prison."
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