Jury Selected In Abuse Trial

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The murder trial of a Georgia couple that led to the investigation of a middle Tennessee church got underway Tuesday. Joseph and Sonya Smith, members of the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, were charged with killing their 8-year-old son.

A jury in their trial was chosen Tuesday, and the prosecution and defense made their opening statements.

The Smiths sat in the courtroom as the prosecution said their abuse lead to the Oct. 2003 death of their son of Joseph Smith

Senior Assistant District Attorney for Cobb County, Ga. Eleanor Dixon described how Joseph began acting up as the family prepared to watch the church service telecast over internet. She said the Smiths locked him in a box as punishment, and stopped breathing while there.

The defense did not shy away from admitting to parental abuse, but said the abuse did not cause Joseph’s death.

Manueir Arora, the family’s defense attorney, said the coroner determined Joseph’s cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. He also said the coroner would testify that the abuse did not lead to his death.


The Smiths face 14 different counts ranging from murder to false imprisonment.

Testimony in the trail starts Wednesday morning.

The Smith’s have two other sons. Investigators said those children showed no sign of abuse.

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Feb. 7, 2007
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This post was last updated: Feb. 7, 2007