Steven Smith, the man who sexually assaulted a six-month-old baby girl to death, is asking for mercy, according to The Associated Press. Smith admits that he wanted to sexually assault the girl, but that he did not intend to kill her.
Autumn Carter, from Mansfield, died as a result of Smith being too drunk to notice his sexual assault was killing her, according to Smith’s attorneys. They were planning to tell this story to the Ohio Parole Board this week.
“The evidence suggests that Autumn’s death was a horrible accident,” his attorneys, Joseph Wilhelm and Tyson Fleming, said in a written argument. “Despite the shocking nature of this crime, Steve’s death sentence should be commuted because genuine doubts exist whether he even committed a capital offense.”
Smith was not charged with sexual assault, which means that the jury either had to convict him or acquit him of aggravated murder, according to his attorneys. James Mayer, the Richland County prosecutor, said that Smith is hiding behind the alcohol as an excuse. He described Smith’s actions as “the purposeful murder of a helpless baby girl.”
“The horrific attack upon Autumn Carter showed much more than Smith’s stated purpose,” Mayer wrote to the board.
The incident occurred on September 29, 1998 in the apartment of the girl’s mother, Kaysha Frye. Smith had been dating Frye for six months. Frye woke up that morning at 3 a.m. when Autumn was placed next to her bed by Smith, who was naked. Frye noticed her daughter was not breathing and told Smith he killed her.
Smith’s blood-alcohol content was .123 after having multiple beers earlier that day. He is known to drink at least 12 beers per day. The alcohol limit was tested eight hours after the incident.
Doug Berman, an Ohio State University professor of law, said, “But if the lawyers for this defendant can legitimately assert that the evidence doesn’t show or support that this was an intentional killing, not only is it appropriate to bring this up at clemency, I think they’re obliged, representing their client appropriately, to stress this point.”