Posted: Saturday, July 5th 2014 at 8:20am
State Supreme Court to hear appeal in Forsyth Co. arson-murder
By Ken Stanford
ATLANTA - The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday is scheduled to hear an appeal involving a murder-arson case originating in Forsyth County. Also on the docket is a hearing on an appeal in a high-profile Fulton County murder case that also has Forsyth County connections.
In the first case, Jill A. Smith is appealing her conviction in February 2012 on murder and arson charges in the death of her husband, Michael Smith.
The couple lived on Kennemore Drive in Forsyth County. According to prosecutors, on Oct. 22, 2010, Jill Smith called 911 and said the house was on fire and that her husband was missing. Firefighters found Smith lying on the bathroom floor. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead on the way to North Fulton Hospital.
In their appeal, Smith's attorney argues the evidence was purely circumstantial and was insufficient to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because it failed to exclude every reasonable hypothesis other than her guilt.
However, the district attorney and attorney general argue otherwise, saying the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.
In the second case, a man who pleaded guilty to murder and is currently serving a life prison sentence with no chance of parole is appealing on the grounds that his guilty plea was invalid because he was not advised of all the constitutional rights he would waive by pleading guilty.
Michael B. Lejeune was convicted of killing 39-year-old Ronnie Davis on Dec. 27, 1997, in Atlanta over a $250 drug debt. His girlfriend, Rekah “Kelly” Anand, who testified against him in exchange for murder and aggravated assault charges against her being dismissed, said that after Lejeune killed Davis, she helped him drag the body upstairs where Lejeune dismembered it. They then stuffed the body parts in the trunk of Lejeune’s car, drove to a cemetery in Forsyth County and set the car on fire. But they kept the head because the bullet was still inside it. Lejeune later placed it it in a bucket, poured cement into it, and dumped it into Lake Lanier. The head has never been recovered.
The State argues that the habeas court “correctly determined that (Lejeune) entered his guilty plea knowingly and voluntarily.” It did so, the State says, by “considering not only the text of the plea transcript and the testimony of counsel, but the totality of the circumstances under which the plea was entered.”
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