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9/27/2012 - Smith guilty of murder; two other charges - Click here to print this information

By Connie Morrison

The jury in the trial of Mark Smith of Parksley, age 36, for the February 26 murder of Vladimir Sadin, returned a guilty verdict on three charges: second degree murder, use of a firearm in committing a murder, and firing into an occupied building. Judge W. Revell Lewis III ordered the fourth charge, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, dropped because evidence was not entered on the charge.

Day two of the trial saw a parade of witnesses. The Commonwealths eye-witnesses were a mixed bag. Eighteen-year-old Trevon Kirkpatrick confounded Deputy Commonwealths Attorney Matthew Brenner by repeatedly answering evasively, and contrary to the statement she had given police the day of the shooting. She contended that her responses were under the glaring watch of seven police officers who fed her the responses they wanted to hear. That story was easily rebutted by investigator Anthony Bright.

Witness Semsair Paul, within whose home the fatal shooting took place, proved a credible witness once a language barrier was bridged. Mr. Paul is a native of Haiti, and has been in the US five years. When asked what he and Mr. Sadin had been doing the last time they were together, it sounded to some as if he said cocaine, but on further questioning it became clear he was saying cooking. Mr. Paul also testified that he was throwing a birthday part for his ex-girlfriend the night of February 25, that carried over into the morning hours of February 26. Approximately 70-80 people were in attendance, dancing and enjoying themselves, when Mr. Smith and some companions tried to enter the home. Mr. Smith said he had come for his daughter, who was one of the party-goers. Mr. Paul said Mr. Smith appeared to be intoxicated, and so he did not want to let him in, but Mr. Smith began forcing his way. Mr. Sadin came to help and tried to hold back Mr. Smith. That, said Mr. Paul, is when He pulled out a gun and shot my homeboy.

Defense attorney Carl Bundick called witnesses who said that Mr. Pauls house was a night club they frequented, and where alcohol and drugs were sold on weekends. Those witnesses Mr. Smiths brother and daughter - were grilled by Mr. Brenner, who was able to uncover some inconsistencies, and also pointed out their family relationship to the jury.

In his closing statement, Mr. Brenner told the jury that there is not requirement to have DNA, fingerprints, or and other physical evidence, and that Eyewitness testimony is good, credible evidence. He called Mr. Paul's testimony the meat and potatoes of this case. Mr. Bundick held that the Commonwealth had not met its burden of proof, and had not successfully fitted together the puzzle pieces he referenced in his opening statement.

The jury deliberated under two hours before returning the guilty verdicts on all charges.

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