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Lawrence Joey SMITH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Drugs
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 14, 1999
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 6, 1977
Victim profile: Robert Crawford, 17
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Pasco County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on August 17, 2001. Overturned in 2004. Resentenced to death on April 22, 2008

Supreme Court of Florida


opinion SC01-2103


DC# R24256
DOB: 07/06/77

Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pasco County, Case #99-3110
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Maynard F. Swanson, Jr.
Attorney, Trial: Daniel M. Hernandez – Specially Appointed Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Paul C. Helm – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Resentencing: Keith Hammond - Private

Date of Offense:  09/14/99

Date of Sentence:  08/17/01

Circumstances of Offense:

Lawrence Smith was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Robert Crawford.

On 09/13/99, Faunce Pearce gave money to Ken Shook, Stephen Tuttle, Robert Crawford, and Amanda Havner to acquire drugs for him.  The four returned to the home of Shook’s stepfather, Bryon Loucks, without the money or the drugs because the money had been stolen. 

Pearce found out that the money had been stolen before the four arrived and was waiting outside for them with a gun.  Pearce forced Shook, Tuttle, Crawford, Havner, and Loucks into Loucks’ home at gunpoint.  Pearce eventually allowed Havner to leave. 

Pearce contacted Theodore Butterfield and asked him to bring Lawrence Smith to Loucks’ home.  Heath Brittingham accompanied Butterfield and Smith to Loucks’ home.  The three men were armed when they arrived at Loucks’ home. 

Pearce ordered Tuttle and Crawford into his car at gunpoint.  Pearce demanded that the boys show him who stole the money.  Pearce told Loucks that he was going to drive the boys down the road, hit them in the mouth and make them walk home.  Loucks would not let Pearce take Shook, Loucks’ stepson, with them. 

Pearce, Smith, Butterfield, Brittingham, Tuttle and Crawford left in Pearce’s car.  Pearce was driving, and Smith was in the front passenger’s seat.  Butterfield and Brittingham were sitting on either side of the backseat with Tuttle and Crawford sitting in the middle. 

Pearce drove for a short period of time.  According to Butterfield, Pearce and Smith exchanged guns during the drive because Smith said that his gun tended to jam.  Pearce stopped the car and told Tuttle to get out.  Smith exited car through the passenger’s side and let Tuttle out of the two-door car from the backseat.  As Tuttle was getting out of the car, Pearce told Smith to hit Tuttle in the face. 

Instead, Smith shot Tuttle in the back of the head.  Pearce asked if Tuttle was dead, and Smith answered in the affirmative.  Pearce then drove further up the road.  He stopped the car and told Crawford to get out of the car.  Smith exited the car and let Crawford out of the car.  Smith then shot Crawford once in the head and once in the chest.

Smith threatened to kill Butterfield and Brittingham if they told.  Pearce, Smith, Butterfield, and Brittingham drove to restaurant where Pearce and Smith ate.  Pearce and Smith then dropped Brittingham and Butterfield off at a grocery store and told them to stay there until they got back, which was about 40 minutes to an hour later. 

After picking up Butterfield and Brittingham from the store, Pearce drove to a bridge.  Smith wrapped the gun in newspaper and threw the gun into the water from the bridge.  The gun was eventually recovered from Tampa Bay.

Tuttle survived the gunshot to the head and was able to flag down help.  Crawford died at the scene.

Smith was arrested on 09/14/99 as he attempted to leave town.  Butterfield and Brittingham eventually acted as state’s witnesses.

Codefendant Status: Faunce Pearce (Pasco County Circuit #99-3110)

Pearce was convicted of First-Degree Murder and Attempted Second-Degree Murder.  On 09/14/01, Pearce was sentenced to Death for First-Degree Murder and 25 years for Second-Degree Murder.

Trial Summary:

09/14/99          Smith was arrested.

09/17/99          Smith was indicted on the following charges:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Robert Crawford)

Count II:          Attempted First-Degree Murder (Stephen Tuttle)

09/17/99          Smith entered a plea of not guilty.

05/03/01          Smith was found guilty on all counts charged in the indictment.

05/04/01          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 8 to 4 majority, voted for the death penalty.

08/17/01          Smith was sentenced as follows:

Count I:            First-Degree Murder (Robert Crawford) – Death

Count II:           Attempted First-Degree Murder (Stephen Tuttle) – Life

01/29/04          FSC affirmed Smith’s convictions and life sentence but reversed Smith’s death sentence and remanded for resentencing due to the trial court’s statement that the death penalty was required for the crime, which could have been either a misstatement of the law by the judge or a misunderstanding of the law by the judge. 

Case Information:

On 09/19/01, Smith filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  Smith argued that the trial court erred in denying motions for a mistrial when Butterfield testified that Smith said he had killed other people and when the prosecutor slammed the gun on the table during closing arguments. 

Smith further argued that the trial court erred in instructing the jury about cold, calculated, and premeditated aggravating factors and by finding the crime to be cold, calculated, and premeditated. 

In addition, Smith argued that reversible errors occurred because there was not a record of whether the venire was sworn and because the prosecutor misled the jury and court about the legal standard for determining aggravating and mitigating circumstances.  Finally, Smith argued that Florida’s death penalty is unconstitutional. 

On 01/29/04, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Smith’s convictions and life sentence but reversed Smith’s death sentence and remanded for resentencing due to the trial court’s statement that the death penalty was required for the crime, which could have been either a misstatement of the law by the judge or a misunderstanding of the law by the judge.  A mandate was issued on 03/01/04.


Second jury recommends death for killer Lawrence Joey Smith

Jurors reject a man's plea for a life term in two 1999 execution-style shootings

By Jamal Thalji - St. Petersburg Times

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

DADE CITY — How much good can a man do if he spends the rest of his life inside a 6-by-9-foot cell?

Lawrence Joey Smith tried to convince the jurors deciding his fate that he could do good behind bars — if only they'd let him live out his days there and spare his life for the crimes of murder and attempted murder.

"If you do give me a chance to live the rest of my life in prison," he said. "I guarantee you I'll do my best to do as much good as I can."

It took the jury four hours on Tuesday to decide that life in prison isn't good enough for Smith — that he belongs back on death row.

The jury recommended the death penalty for Smith by a vote of 7 to 5.

It was the second time in seven years that a jury decided that Smith, 30, should be put to death for the 1999 execution-style shootings that left Robert Crawford dead and left a bullet in survivor Stephen Tuttle's brain.

• • •

In Florida, juries recommend capital sentences of life or death, and judges impose them. Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper will take the jury's decision into account when she sentences Smith.

Judges rarely deviate from such recommendations, but Tepper won't have her say until April. After the verdict Tuesday, the Crawford family had its say.

"My family lost my brother the night of Sept. 14, 1999," said older sister Katie Crawford, 27, "by way of murder."

Then she cursed at Smith: "Sick bastard."

Loudly, the judge admonished her: "It is improper to address anyone in this manner."

"I apologize your honor," Katie Crawford said. Then she added: "I feel better already."

Then sister Lisa Crawford, 28, spoke:

"Joey Smith is remorseless," she said. "He continues to look at my family with no emotion on his face. I can hardly control my emotions and sadness looking at him.

"Not once has he even expressed his sorrow for what happened. …"

And as she spoke, Smith sat emotionless, just as he had throughout the trial.

Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia read a note from Stephen Tuttle, now 24. Tuttle, left disabled by the bullet still lodged in his brain, stood alongside him.

"I was forced to drop out of school," the note said. "I am unable to hold a job. I am unable to maintain relationships. I cannot trust anyone.

"I cannot help but think what my life could have been had Mr. Smith not robbed mine and Rob's childhoods."

• • •

Katie Crawford said her brother's last moments "will haunt me forever."

Authorities say he and Tuttle were taken by gunpoint to a remote stretch of State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes by Smith and co-defendant Faunce Pearce after losing $1,200 in drug money.

Smith got Tuttle out of the car and shot him in the back of the head. They drove on, not knowing that Tuttle, then 16, had survived because the bullet ricocheted off his fingers before entering his brain.

They stopped again. Then Crawford was let out and, while begging for his life, gunned down at age 17.

"Is it cold? Is it calculated? Is it premeditated? Absolutely," Garcia, the prosecutor, told jurors in his closing Tuesday. "Robert Crawford knew that the second time that vehicle pulled over, he was going to die.

"And Lawrence Joey Smith knew he was going to kill him."

• • •

The families will have to go through this again.

Pearce's conviction and death sentence were overturned in 2006 because of lawyer error. He awaits retrial on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Pearce, 45, will again face the death penalty.

Smith's conviction was upheld, but his death sentence was overturned in 2004 because of judicial error. He represented himself in this new penalty phase, using what he had learned in the prison law library.

He testified Monday about his broken childhood, about the drugs that consumed his life and about the good he has done with fellow prisoners behind bars.

Smith will have one more chance to persuade the judge to override the jury's recommendation at a March 13 hearing.

Then the judge will impose her sentence on April 22.


Lawrence Joey Smith



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