Jury convicts parents in 2003 murder of son

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MARIETTA, Ga. - On the day that would have been Josef Smith's 12th birthday, a suburban Atlanta jury convicted his parents of one count each of felony murder and involuntary manslaughter.

His parents, Joseph and Sonya Smith, remained motionless as the two-week trial into their son's 2003 death ended.

The couple was found guilty of four counts of cruelty to children, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless conduct and one count of false imprisonment in the death of their son, who was 8 when he died.

Sentencing was set for March 27.

The parents had been charged in a 14-count indictment in June with murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and false imprisonment in his death.

The Smiths were found not guilty of additional, separate counts of murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct, false imprisonment and cruelty to children.

The Smiths are members of the Franklin, Tenn.-based Remnant Fellowship Church, which grew out of church leader Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down Workshop, a faith-based diet program that she created in 1986.

Prosecutors charged that Josef was beaten by his parents, locked inside a wooden box and forced to stay inside a closet for hours at a time before he died in October 2003.

A police witness said Josef's father told officers his 8-year-old son frequently needed discipline because the child carved death threats on the walls that kept the family awake at night and claimed he was a foot-soldier for the devil.

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wink
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wink 02/17/07 - 10:55 am
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GOOD Job to the Jury. Someone

GOOD Job to the Jury. Someone was finally able to get justice for this child.

tracilynn1978
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tracilynn1978 02/17/07 - 01:02 pm
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What about the church? They

What about the church? They are partially to blame. They told the parents how to disipline the child. Should't they be held accountable?

butterflygina
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butterflygina 02/17/07 - 01:17 pm
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Has anyone visited this

Has anyone visited this church's website? They believe in strict diets (they have this huge weight loss program) and their site actually shows before (fat) and after (skinny/slimmed down, some to the point of looking aneroxic) as well as disciplining children (no doubt the kind that means beat them). An 8 year old who says he is the devil and hates people has been told he is the devil and that he is hated.......They had another child who died as a toddler (they don't believe it was child abuse). The victim's older son know lives with his grandmother.

LakesFamily
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LakesFamily 02/17/07 - 01:18 pm
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No child should have to

No child should have to experience life in this manner. There is proper help for situations like this. May his soul rest peacefully now that proper punishment will be served.

sassygalady30
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sassygalady30 02/17/07 - 02:30 pm
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yeah maybe the church had a

yeah maybe the church had a part n this but the parents new right from wwrong they was adults ........so tey got what they had coming to them.they could of got out of the church n got help before it got to this but they didnt....they knew right from wrong n knew how to say NO and leave..........but i agree the church should be checked into before someone else dies r gets hurt.they should be the next step to this matter...LOOK INTO THE CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!

sassygalady30
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sassygalady30 02/17/07 - 02:30 pm
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sry for typo's

sry for typo's

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