Smith was found guilty of malice murder and arson in
connection with the violent death of 15-year-old Jasmine
Moore. Smith now appeals, arguing that his trial
counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the
sufficiency of the indictment and failing to thoroughly
cross-examine Smith's codefendant, Tyberius Murchinson.
Because we find that Smith's trial counsel was not
constitutionally ineffective, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence
presented at trial showed the following. Shortly before her
death, Moore told her cousin, Murchinson's sister
Teyonka, that she might be pregnant with Smith's child.
At the time, Teyonka herself was pregnant by Smith. After
Smith became aware that Moore might be pregnant, he discussed
the situation with Murchinson, telling him that he wanted to
time of the murder, Moore lived with her mother. On the
evening of August 8, 2009, Moore's mother left their home
at around 9:15 p.m. to go to work. Moore's mother had
just recently begun letting Moore stay home alone while she
worked the night shift, on the condition that Moore was not
to open the door for anyone.
after Moore's mother left for work, Smith and Murchinson
met at Smith's home. They gathered a kitchen knife, a
claw hammer, and cloth gloves for each of them, and walked to
Moore's house. Smith carried the hammer, and Murchinson
carried the knife. When they arrived at Moore's house,
the front door was locked and Moore did not answer the door,
so they left and went to a nearby Huddle House. Cell phone
records introduced at trial showed several texts between
Smith and Moore between 11:08 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., in which
Smith told Moore that he and Murchinson were coming back and
to open the front door. Moore texted that the front door was
open, and Smith responded, confirming that they were on their
way. Smith sent no texts between 11:46 p.m. and 12:15 a.m.,
and although he resumed texting at 12:16 a.m., he never again
attempted to contact Moore. The last text message Moore ever
sent was to Smith at 11:45 p.m. on August 8, 2009,
acknowledging that Smith was on his way to her house.
witness encountered Smith and Murchinson walking between the
Huddle House and Moore's home shortly before midnight.
She recognized the boys and greeted them. They seemed
startled to see her, but returned her greeting and kept
arrival at the Moores' home, Smith went with Moore to
Moore's bedroom, while Murchinson remained in the front
of the house. After a while, Smith began beating Moore with
the hammer, and Murchinson heard Moore exclaim that her head
was bleeding. Murchinson stood in the hallway and listened to
Moore screaming as Smith continued to hit her with the
hammer, following her to the bedroom doorway where she
finally fell. Smith handed Murchinson the hammer, and
Murchinson hit Moore with the hammer on her head and upper
body as she lay on the floor, to make sure that she was dead.
Both boys wore the cloth gloves they had brought with them.
Moore was dead, Smith and Murchinson poured bleach and dumped
paper trash from a wastebasket on her body. Smith went to the
stove, lit a piece of paper, and set the debris on top of
Moore on fire. When a smoke alarm near her body began going
off, one of the two pulled it out of the ceiling. Smith and
Murchinson dumped the knife, hammer, and Moore's cell
phone in a storm drain near Moore's house and went back
to Smith's house to shower and burn their clothing in a
that morning, Moore's mother returned home from work to
find the house full of smoke. She called out for Moore and
found her body at the end of the hall near her bedroom door.
An autopsy revealed that Moore had at least 18 blunt force
injuries to the face and head, consistent with being hit with
a hammer; at least 8 sharp force injuries to the head,
consistent with being cut with a knife; and multiple smaller
blunt and sharp force injuries, including defensive injuries
to the arms and hands. The autopsy also showed that Moore had
been killed before her body was burned-and that she was not
in fact pregnant at the time of her death.
Smith and Murchinson were questioned during the initial
murder investigation, both denied any involvement in the
crime. Smith gave authorities his cell phone number, and cell
phone records revealed the text messages between Smith and
Moore on the night of the murder. There was not enough
evidence to obtain warrants, however, and the case went
unsolved for almost five years.
2014, after attending a three-night Baptist revival,
Murchinson turned himself in to the Alma Police Department
and confessed his role in Moore's murder. The storm drain
that Murchinson identified was searched, and Moore's cell
phone and a kitchen knife were discovered inside the drain
about a foot apart. Smith and Murchinson were arrested and
indicted for malice murder, felony murder, and first degree
arson. Days before trial, Murchinson pled guilty to
aggravated assault and arson and was sentenced to a total of
30 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, he
testified for the State at Smith's trial.
Smith does not challenge the legal sufficiency of the
evidence supporting his convictions, we have reviewed the
record according to our usual practice in murder cases and
conclude that the evidence introduced at trial and summarized
above was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to
find Smith guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes of