UPDATE: Michael Scott Smith Gets Life in Prison

By: Josh Gauntt Email
By: Josh Gauntt Email

Around noon Thursday, jurors came back with the guilty verdict, convicting Michael Smith of first degree murder. As the verdict was being read, smith stood emotionless.

"Guilty of 1st degree murder," the court clerk read.

Michael Scott Smith is now a convicted killer. Smith beat Diana Shafer to death with a hammer at her home just off of Estrella Street in Panama City Beach in May 2009.

Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet did not waste anytime imposing Smith's

"You will be committed to the department of corrections for the balance of your life without the possibility of parole," Overstreet said.

During his testimony Wednesday, Smith claimed he did not kill Shafer, blaming it instead on Shafer's boyfriend.

Smith said the only time he touched the murder weapon was when he helped Shafer hang a mirror a short time before her killing. But Smith couldn't overcome scientific evidence that linked him to the murder.

Shafer's blood was found on his shorts and sneakers. Her blood and his DNA on the murder weapon. As for a motive, prosecutors say it was over a weed-eater and drug money. They also say smith thought-out the crime.

"And put the shirt over her to keep the blood spatter from coming back on him anymore than it already did. That is premeditation ladies and gentlemen," Stan Peacock, an Assistant State Attorney said.

Peacock said Smith lied to everyone, but couldn't deny the evidence, even though he tried.

"The dna evidence in this case is substantial and very strong," Peacock added.

While Smith's attorney called the evidence circumstantial, he admitted Smith’s bloody trail was too much to overcome.

"We did our best to try to explain a way the presence of the DNA there, but the evidence was pretty overwhelming," Jonathan Dingus, Smith’s attorney said.

Immediately after the verdict, Smith told his attorney he wants to appeal his conviction.

Something to note, Smith has between 11 and 20 previous felony convictions from Georgia for burglary, theft and drugs. He even stole some of his grandmother's jewelry.

Peacock says Smith was a heavy drug user and called Shafer's murder "death by meth power".


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