Prosecutors rested Thursday morning after providing four days of testimony and evidence they say proves that Smith, 30, killed a 54-year-old woman with Down syndrome in August 2010. Patricia Burley’s decomposing body was found in an overgrown lot four days after she went missing from her home on Wrightsboro Road.
The defense only called Smith as a witness, and he maintained his innocence as Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine asked a barrage of questions about Burley’s death:
“You shoved paper towels down her throat so she couldn’t scream, isn’t that right?”
“You don’t remember strangling her with your bare hands and watching the life slip out of her?”
“How many times did you go back to the couch and have sex with her body?”
“You used the body spray to mask the odor of her rotting body, didn’t you?”
While Paine asked variations of the same question, Smith denied even knowing Burley and gave variations of the same answer:
“No, I did not do that to any person in Georgia.”
“No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m an innocent young man.”
When Paine began asking how Burley’s DNA could end up on Smith’s shorts and his fingerprints at the crime scene, Smith proposed it was false evidence.
Smith grew flustered during the cross examination, asking Paine to change her questions, but didn’t alter his repeated statements. A few jurors smirked as the questioning dragged on.
In defending her client, Penelope Donkar said in closing arguments that the state’s case was built almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.
“Most of this case is relying on seeing Mr. Smith in the area,” she said.
She suggested that Smith’s fingerprint on the trash can assumed to transport Burley’s body was the result of Smith, who is homeless, wandering the neighborhood and touching it on one of his rambles.
Paine launched straight into a closing argument detailing the atrocities committed against Burley. She also used another attack for which Smith is indicted to show a pattern of abuse.
“Nobody deserves to go through the hell that these two women did,” Paine said.