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Man sentenced to life for killing his wife

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Robert Smith was sentenced to life in prison plus five years Thursday after a jury found him guilty of killing his wife in 2006.

It didn't take the jury long to convict Smith of murder, felony murder and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Defense attorney Scott Drake never said his client didn't fire the fatal shots into 42-year-old Jennifer Smith as she lay in their bed, but contended that he did so while suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by childhood sexual abuse.

Smith loved his wife, he testified, and was delusional when he killed her, mistaking her for the stepfather who physically and sexually assaulted him years before.

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Ross didn't believe it, calling the defense theory a "convenient excuse for murder."

Pointing to Smith, who sat stoic through much of the proceeding, Ross said, "That's not a 6-year-old boy, his will wasn't overmastered ... he was a mean drunk."

Ross showed photographs to contradict Smith's testimony that after shooting his wife he, in a child's mindstate, sought solitude in a bedroom closet. That photograph showed a bloody footprint headed, instead, down the hallway.

Particular brutal, Ross said, was the point-blank shot to his wife's neck after she had already been struck once in the chest.

"That's what you might expect from a vengeful killing -- the coup de grace in the neck," he said.

Both Smiths had been drinking and arguing at their Stone Mountain trailer park on July 9, and Gwinnett police responded to two 911 calls -- one placed by each spouse -- prior to the shooting.

While Ross conceded that it's possible Smith was molested as a child, he said the motive for murder was simply to stop his wife "from b----ing at him."

Statements Smith made soon after the killing, recorded by police cameras, may have been particularly damning.

"(Expletive) she (expletive) bled a lot. ... That'll teach you to run your (expletive) mouth." "(Expletive) right I did it."