Corey Smith sentenced to life in prison in slaying

Corey Smith was sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury convicted him Friday morning of felony and malice murder.

Four days of testimony portrayed Smith as the man who lured Patricia Burley, a 54-year-old woman with Down syndrome, away from her home on Wrightsboro Road and hid her body in an overgrown lot at the dead end of Hall Street in south Augusta.

Smith, 30, maintained his innocence when he took the stand Thursday and his attorney, Penelope Donkar, argued that the case was built mostly on circumstantial evidence.

But Smith couldn’t explain how the DNA of the victim came to be on his shorts, nor could he ignore that his fingerprints were found on the trash can assumed to have transported Burley’s body.

Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine said life without parole was the only appropriate sentence.

“Not only for justice for Pat Burley, but also for the safety of the community so that no one has to be threatened by Corey Smith again,” Paine said.

In sentencing, Superior Court Judge Michael Annis also took into account the beating of another woman four months before for which Smith is also indicted. That woman, a schizophrenic now undergoing treatment in Statesboro, Ga., was sodomized, beaten with a brick and slashed to the bone with a rusty razor. Smith’s DNA was collected from her body at the hospital.

Annis had little sympathy for a man he said targeted women who are mentally challenged and incapable of defending themselves.

“You brutally beat them, cut them and tortured them,” Annis said. “I’m looking at a very, very dangerous person. I agree that you never need to see the streets again.”

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