Pauls Valley Democrat
Jonathon Smith was a man of few words this week as he became the fourth defendant to receive prison time in two Garvin County home invasions dating back three years.
Smith, 24, was sentenced to what amounts to an eight-year prison term during a hearing in a Pauls Valley courtroom earlier this week that included plenty of tears as his family looked on from the front row.
Both Smith and Justin Robbins, 24, were given more time behind bars during hearings on the same day, Nov. 25, inside a Garvin County District courtroom.
Taking the stand to answer questions from his attorney Micah Ayache, Smith made it clear he takes full responsibility for being involved in the criminal acts that have now led him to prison.
“Sometimes I can’t hold my head up,” Smith said about his shame in being a part of those violent crimes just over three years ago.
“Sorry for what I did,” he said. “It was a mistake.”
The mistake Smith is referring to came on Nov. 14-15, 2010 when Smith and three other area men, all wearing masks, forced their way into homes in Pauls Valley and Elmore City.
Testimony has shown their intentions were to steal whatever they could from alleged drug dealers living in the two residences.
Once inside the four men used various weapons to terrorize and assault those inside.
A fifth man, Tygue Stephens, has admitted to being the getaway driver. He has pleaded no contest and awaits his sentence in January.
Tara Portillo, an assistant district attorney in Garvin County, isn’t so forgiving of Smith’s mistakes as she offered some of her thoughts to District Judge Greg Dixon during the sentencing hearing.
“We don’t have mistakes,” she said. “We have willful, malicious acts. This defendant has confessed to these acts.”
For example, Portillo said it was Smith who used a weapon to strike and injure a woman inside the Elmore City residence as she protected her 4-year-old son.
“They were made to believe they were going to die,” she said.
“We’re here with him asking for mercy, but he didn’t give mercy to those victims. He’s forever changed their lives. He wiped away any sense of peace they had in their own homes.
“He’s committed violent acts that forever changed the lives of two families.”
The prosecutor asked for Smith to be sentenced to a 20-year prison term, while Ayache asked the judge to give his client probation with strict limitations included.
“He takes responsibility for what he did,” Ayache said. “He should go to prison but not for 20 years.
“We need some punishment, but we would ask the court to consider what he’s done before this, consider his family situation and his unborn child,” he said, referring to Smith’s girlfriend expecting their child in January.
Dixon later gave Smith various terms of incarceration for the nine criminal counts he was facing in the case.
The eight-year term given to Smith was for an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge.
The judge said despite some positives in Smith’s life right now, including his family’s support, he needed to be held accountable for his role in the two home invasions.