Smith denied parole

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MONTGOMERY – A Butler County man convicted of the 1997 murder of a Shackleville Community woman was denied parole Tuesday.

Thomas Wesley Smith, who confessed to the murder of Tracy Lowery Killough, was sentenced to 90 years for murder and 15 years for burglary in 1999. On Tuesday, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied his parole for a second time. Smith was also denied parole in 2007.

“One hundred and five years is longer than a life sentence,” said Robert Longshore, a member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. “That sentence is a message sent by the court as to the severity of the crime committed, but he is eligible for a parole hearing and that’s why we’re here today.”

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In 1999, Smith agreed to a plea deal that stated in exchange for the capital murder charge being reduced to murder and burglary, he would not apply for or accept parole for 30 years.

Longshore said on Tuesday that despite the plea deal state law mandates that Smith receive a periodic parole hearing.

“There is no such thing as an application for parole,” he said. “State law mandates that parole hearings be held. The terms that were agreed upon can’t be enforced, and therefore periodically he will come up for parole.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Butler County District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer, who prosecuted the case in 1999, asked the board to consider the nature of the crime and put off the next parole hearing for the maximum amount of time allowable under the law.

“People make stupid mistakes and wind up in prison,” she said. “This was not a stupid mistake. This was a very violent and evil crime, and he deserves to serve his sentence.”

Smith confessed to stabbing Killough more than 20 times after authorities say she interrupted a burglary at her Shackleville Community home.

Just hours after the murder, deputies with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office arrested Smith. Witnesses had identified Smith’s truck as being near the home prior to the murder, and deputies had found a hunting knife, rifle and other evidence linking Smith to the murder in a pond on Killough’s property.

Sheriff Kenny Harden, who was the chief investigator for the BCSO at the time, called it “one of the most brutal murders” he has seen in all is years in law enforcement.

“He deserves to serve all 105 years of his sentence,” Harden said.

The board also heard from Killough’s stepdaughter Shanna Killough, who said Smith had changed her life for the worse and took away any chance that she would ever live a normal life.

“When will this end? How long will we have to fight for our family’s safety and the safety of others? How long will we have to fight for justice for Tracy? I know if he gets out, he will hurt again,” she said.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles set Smith’s next parole hearing for 2017.