A Palm Beach County jury is now deliberating the first-degree murder case of Jamal Smith, the 24-year-old man charged in the 2011 shooting death Kemar Clayton.
The panel began deciding the case Tuesday afternoon after closing arguments from Assistant State Attorneys John Parnofiello and Andrew Slater and Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Ramsey, who presented jurors with two different versions of what happened when Clayton met Smith and Quentin Lythgoe hoping to buy an iPad from them.
Lythgoe testified last week that the iPad sale was just a ruse used to lure Clayton to the parking lot of a Publix Supermarket on State Road 7 so he and Smith could rob him. He said Smith picked Clayton, who had a business buying and selling iPhones and iPads, after asking friends to give him leads on who to rob and hearing that Clayton might be an easy mark.
But at some point during the robbery, Lythgoe said, Clayton tried to go for his own gun, as Smith shot him to death.
Parnofiello told jurors that the killing was not an accident, but rather a possibility Smith had planned for in the four days he planned the robbery, recruited Lythgoe to come along as “muscle” and obtained a .45 -caliber handgun.
“He had that .45 to make sure he was going to come up. He had that .45 to make sure he was going to get some money,” Parnofiello said.
Ramsey, on the other hand, reiterated Smith’s testimony in his own defense, telling jurors that physical evidence in the case fails to support prosecutors’ theory that Clayton was still reaching for the gun when Smith starting shooting.
The downward splatter of Clayton’s blood is a sign that he was standing when he was shot, supporting the defense argument that there was no robbery and Clayton approached Smith with a gun after Lythgoe swiped a pair of sneakers from the trunk of Clayton’s Mercedes-Benz.
“It was a tragic misreading of motives and actions by everyone at the scene,” Ramsey said.
Although Lythgoe said the two made off with several hundred dollars in the robbery, Ramsey said the fact that investigators found several hundreds of dollars, Clayton’s jewelry and an untouched iPad on the scene is all evidence that a robbery never happened
Before Smith’s trial began last week, the expected highlight of testimony in the case was to be an appearance from Frederick Cobia, a jailhouse lawyer turned informant who claims to have obtained confessions from dozens of his cellmates – including Smith.
Though Cobia’s potential testimony was the subject of months of legal wrangling in the case, prosecutors unceremoniously announced Thursday that they would not be calling him as a witness.