Disagreement leads to dismissal of duty counsel in Morgantown murder case as sentencing delayed
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The conviction of a convicted murderer was postponed on Tuesday after a disagreement in the Monongalia County Circuit Court.
Gary Smith, 60, of Morgantown, was in court for conviction after accepting a plea from Alford last month in the first degree murder of Alexa Randolph. He had a disagreement with his court-appointed lawyer on Tuesday.
Monongalia County Circuit Judge Susan Tucker told Smith at the October 5 plea hearing that Smith would give him a chance at parole after 15 years. Smith was moved during the plea hearing, but verbally agreed to the terms and signed documents during the video hearing that day.
At a video sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Smith told the court that his lawyer failed to properly present all of the options he had in the case and that he was denied all of them. its discovery information as required by law. Smith went on to tell Judge Tucker he was under duress, confused and felt his court-appointed lawyer had forced him to take Alford’s plea.
Court-appointed lawyer Christopher Wilson explained that the find was stored on a USB stick. The player contained audio, video, a cell phone download, and all the police reports – things Wilson told the judge it would be impossible to give Smith in jail.
Tucker told Smith that the plea he accepted and signed was a binding document. Tucker said changing lawyers won’t change what the evidence shows a jury. Tucker reminded Smith that he had previously admitted to killing Randolph as part of Alford’s plea and that he would risk a jury sending him to life in prison saying, “given the way you killed victim, a jury is unlikely to grant clemency. “
Despite the prosecution’s objections, Tucker relieved Wilson and delayed proceedings until a new lawyer was appointed.
“It’s a travesty of justice and all he did was make fun of the justice system today, period,” Alexa Randolph’s uncle Grant Adams told WAJR Radio News . “He has no rights, he betrayed when he took someone’s life.”
Randolph was reported missing from the Morgantown Police Department after failing to pick up her son on January 28.
Using data from his cell phone, detectives determined that Randolph had very recently visited the Smiths residence. Smith immediately became a Person of Interest after the first interview, detectives said.
On January 29, Randolph’s cell phone pings led police to Walmart on Hornbeck Road where his body was found in the cargo area of his Ford SUV. Police also recovered surveillance footage from Walmart showing a subject matching Smith’s description walking out of the parking lot.
An autopsy determined Randolph died of asphyxiation and blunt trauma. Complies with the large amount of blood evidence found in Smith’s garage. The autopsy also determined that Smith’s DNA was under the victim’s fingernails, signifying a struggle.
Smith is the paternal grandfather of Randolph’s son. He was arrested and charged on February 10.
An Alford plea means that a defendant maintains their innocence while admitting that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict them.