Jury finds Dominique Smith guilty on all counts in BREC park murders trial

Dominique Smith
Dominique Smith

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It didn't take long for the jury to reach a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Dominique Smith. He was accused of killing two people and trying to take the lives of two others in a BREC park.

It took the jury just two hours to find Smith guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore and family members of the slain victims exited the 19th JDC knowing Smith was going to prison for the rest of his life. Smith's guilty verdict came just two hours after Judge Tony Marabella gave the case to the jury. The verdict was a unanimous 12-0 vote.

The victims' families in this case, it's important that we proceed through these types of trials hand-in-hand with them," said prosecutor Darwin Miller. "And, they've been very patient. They've waited a long time for this.

Juan Palmer Sr.'s four-year-old son was murdered, along with his wife, Jessica, on May 4, 2008 at a BREC park in north Baton Rouge. Trindel Mathews and Smith will both spend the rest of their lives in prison for the crime.

"There's nothing that can bring my son back or my wife, so I just deal with it day-by-day, a day at a time," said Palmer.

Elaine Johnson takes care of Jessica Palmer's daughter, Paige, who testified against her father in this trial. Her little throat was also cut, but she survived the attack. Johnson is ready to move on with her life.

"I pray that my children's soul rest in peace and we can move on, because there is a healing process and now, we can go on and heal because God says for us to forgive and that's what I have done," Johnson said. "And, I pray that he'll have a repentant heart and he'll repent of the things he's done because truly there is justice coming, not only on this side, but on the other side.

Marabella will sentence Smith on May 24 to mandatory life in prison.

Closing arguments got under way around 10 a.m. and the jury got the case around 1 p.m.

In his closing, Smith's defense attorney asked the jury to please not rely on theatrics and sympathy to decide if Smith is guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. Smith's lawyer also said the jury cannot believe the testimony of his daughter, Paige, because she was coached.

Prosecutors countered that Smith is a control master who brought strangers into their home, that he had sexual relations with multiple women while married and that paternity suits were mounting, which was the motive.

The trial continued over the weekend with the defendant taking the stand against his attorney's advice.

"I want to defend myself against something I didn't do," Smith said when asked why he wanted to testify. "For the past four and a half years, I haven't had a chance to speak."

Both sides will present their closing arguments, and then hand the case over to the jury.

"We presented a full case," said District Attorney Hillar Moore. "We presented all the evidence that we had. I'm sure the defense feels they have done the same. Now, we'll just leave it in the hands of the jury and just wait for their decision."

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