Appeal planned after judge denies self-defense claim from woman who says she killed man who raped her

Northeast Alabama
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. — A Jackson County judge has rejected a self-defense claim by Brittany Smith, who is charged with murder and now faces the prospect of going to trial.

She is charged in the January 2018 shooting death of Todd Smith, who is not related. She testified at a self-defense, immunity hearing last month that Smith raped and choked her into unconsciousness. She claimed she shot Todd Smith after he choked her brother.

But, Circuit Judge Jennifer Holt rejected the self-defense claim, questioning whether deadly force was necessary to protect Brittany Smith’s brother while he fought with Todd Smith.

The judge also said physical evidence of Brittany Smith’s injuries show bruising to her neck, bite marks, and a broken fingernail. But the judge said the injuries did not reflect sexual assault.

The judge also said she could have fled to safety.

A portion of the judge's ruling denying the stand your ground defense
A portion of the judge’s ruling denying the stand your ground defense

Click here to read the full ruling.

The judge did note that Todd Smith had significant amounts of methamphetamine in his system when he died, according to testimony from the hearing.

The court faulted Brittany Smith for what it called her inconsistent statements to police, including originally saying her brother shot Todd Smith.

In the judge’s order today, Brittany Smith’s narrative begins with agreeing to pick up Todd Smith on a snowy day and bringing him to her house. They talked for a while, then Todd Smith grew angry.

She testified that he headbutted her, chased her and she woke up naked, in her own urine. She tried to scratch him and they ended up on the floor and he choked her unconscious. She said he raped her and after that, he calmed down.

She called her mother and her brother came to the house and the three of them drove to a Mapco, where a police officer happened to be, but she didn’t talk to him. She wrote a note for the clerk at the store, saying Todd Smith tried to kill her, that she should call her mom and that if she was found dead, he would be the killer.

They went back to the house where Smith told her brother that the clerk wanted to talk to her, so he left.

He came back, Brittany Smith testified, and she heard her brother and Todd Smith fighting. She claimed both were landing punches, then Todd put her brother in a chokehold. She told him to let go, but he didn’t, she said. She said she fired a few shots where nothing happened, then a third shot, where both men fell.

Her brother wasn’t hit, Todd was. They called 911, but she told the dispatcher her brother shot Todd, trying to protect her.

The court also questioned the extent of her brother’s injuries based on photos from the scene.

WHNT spoke to Smith’s attorney Tuesday. Ron Smith says they plan to appeal the judge’s decision. He says they have 42 days to file a transcript. After that, the state will file its argument.

Brittany Smith’s trial was originally set for February 10th, 2020. Her attorney, Ron Smith, says in light of the appeal process, he doesn’t expect the case to go to trial for several months. He filed a motion Tuesday to stay the proceedings in the murder case as they go through the appeal process. Wednesday, the judge granted the motion.

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