Parents guilty in child murder

Death occurred while Joseph and Sonya Smith punished 8-year-old

A jury today convicted Cobb parents Joseph and Sonya Smith on one count each of felony murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 8-year-old son Josef.

The Cobb County Superior Court jury also found Joseph and Sonya Smith guilty of four counts of cruelty to children, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless conduct and one count of false imprisonment in the death of their son, Josef, in October 2003.

The defendants remained motionless as Cobb County Deputy Clerk Tricia Crawford read the verdicts, although Sonya Smith closed her eyes after the jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter and murder.

The packed courtroom also remained silent, after Judge James Bodiford threatened to respond to any outbursts with 20 days in the county jail.

The verdicts were read just after noon.

The parents had been charged in a 14-count indictment in June with murder, cruelty to children, aggravated assault and false imprisonment in their son’s death.

In a sworn statement, a Cobb County police officer said as punishment the boy was tied up, beaten with belts and sticks and locked in a closet and forced to pray to a picture of Jesus as his parents watched on closed-circuit television.

The Smiths’ oldest son, Mykel Booth, who now lives with his maternal grandmother, alleged that Josef was beaten with a glue stick — a flexible material used inside glue guns — as well as with belts, clothes hangers and extension cords. Booth also testified that his little brother was locked inside a tightly woven wicker box, where prosecutors allege he died from asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma to his head.

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