The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to take up a request to reinstate Kevan Brumfield’s death sentence in the 1993 ambush killing of Baton Rouge police Cpl. Betty Smothers is “yet another blow” to her family and the community, East Baton Rouge Parish’s chief prosecutor said Tuesday.
“The jury’s decision to impose the death penalty … was appropriate then and is today,” insisted District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who said his office is considering its next move.
Brumfield, 43, of Baton Rouge, was condemned to die in 1995, but the sentence was later overturned — a decision Moore has been battling.
Nick Trenticosta, one of Brumfield’s attorneys, said Brumfield is happy with the Supreme Court’s action and looks forward to being resentenced in the 19th Judicial District Court. The new sentence would be life in prison.
“We hope he will be taken off death row very soon,” Trenticosta added.
Also on death row in the Smothers case is Henri Broadway, 45, of Baton Rouge. He is seeking a new trial, claiming his trial attorneys were ineffective.
The Supreme Court’s action Monday in Brumfield’s case came after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Brumfield is intellectually disabled and, therefore, cannot be executed.
The District Attorney’s Office asked the Supreme Court in March to take up the case. Moore’s office argued the high court should reverse U.S. District Judge James Brady and the 5th Circuit, and reinstate state District Judge Richard Anderson’s 2003 finding that Brumfield is not intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court denied the request to consider the case without issuing written reasons.
Moore said he will meet with his staff and the Smothers’ family before deciding whether to ask the justices to reconsider their decision.
“This family has suffered through 23 years of legal proceedings. It is more than one family and generations of this family can endure,” he said.
Moore said his office did not receive the needed vote of four justices to hear his request to reinstate the death penalty. Now, it would take five justices to vote in favor of a rehearing of that refusal, he noted.
Three psychologists had testified as expert witnesses for Brumfield in Brady’s Baton Rouge federal courtroom that Brumfield is mentally disabled, but the state’s experts — a psychiatrist, psychologist and neuropsychologist — testified he is not intellectually disabled.
Smothers, a 36-year-old single mother of six children, was fatally shot Jan. 7, 1993, outside a Jefferson Highway bank where she had driven a grocery store manager to make a night deposit as part of Smothers’ off-duty security job.
Brumfield was accused of shooting Smothers to death. Broadway was accused of firing into Smothers’ police car and wounding the grocery store employee.
Warrick Dunn — a former Catholic High School, Florida State University and NFL running back — is Smothers’ oldest child. Dunn, who lost his mother two days after his 18th birthday, has called Brumfield’s mental disability claim “offensive and morally wrong.”