Trial begins in death of Down syndrome victim

Monday, March 19, 2012 1:26 PM
Last updated 1:32 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

Opening arguments are expected to begin at 2 p.m. in the trial of a man charged with killing a 54-year-old woman with Down syndrome.

Corey Smith is indicted on charges including murder for the death of Pat Burley, whose disappearance in August 2010, sparked dozens of concerned friends and family to search the Laney-Walker Boulevard neighborhood. She was eventually found four days after going missing in a trash can in a wooded lot. A criminal investigation revealed that Burley was sexually assaulted before she was killed.

Bloody fingerprints and other evidence linked Smith to the crime, according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Since his arrest, Smith has been mentally evaluated and found competent to stand trial. He has also been indicted on charges that he beat another woman unconscious with a brick four months prior to Burley’s death.

Jury selection is also underway for the trial of Erik Williams, who police named as the triggerman who killed a Fort Gordon soldier.

Investigators said Williams fired two shots at DeAngelo Hudgins and Albert Gilbert on July 17, 2010 at Sanctuary Apartments in West Augusta. Williams fled the scene in a car driven by his co-defendant, Edwin Cruz, according to sheriff’s investigators.

Gilbert was shot in the gut, but survived; Hudgins, 25, a military policeman at Fort Gordon, was hit in the chest and died the next day at Eisenhower Army Medical Center on post.

That trial will start at 2:30 p.m.

For live updates, follow reporter Kyle Martin on Twitter: @reporterKM


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