Deliberations End In Church Members’ Murder Trial

Deliberations in the Marietta, Georgia murder trial of Joseph and Sonya Smith came to an end on Thursday. Prosecutors said the Smith’s abused their eight-year-old son even allegedly locking him in a box at times.

The couple is affiliated with the Brentwood-based Remnant Fellowship Church and their trial has been closely followed in Middle Tennessee.

Prosecutors said a blow to the head ended the young boy’s life in October 2003 while the defense maintains he died of a skin infection.

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Emotional closing arguments were made by the prosecutor on Wednesday before handing the case over to jury. Prosecutor Eleanor Dixon shoved a dummy into a wicker box the prosecution said the Smith’s used to punish their child. She then [placed] candles on a birthday cake and sang to the deceased boy while the Smith’s watched and cried.

Jurors worked for 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon and then resumed deliberations Thursday morning.

The Smith’s are facing a total of 14 counts including four count of felony murder, five counts of first degree cruelty to children, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of false imprisonment.

The jury is made up of four men and ten women.

If convicted the Smith’s face a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

The Remnant Fellowship Church grew out of author Gwen Shamblin ‘s best selling book, the “Weigh Down Diet.” According to the group’s Web site, they have 130 Churches in the U.S, Canada, Europe, Australia and the Bahamas.

A verdict is expected sometime Friday.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
, WKRN, Feb. 15, 2007, http://www.wkrn.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday February 16, 2007.
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