Christopher Eugene Smith seemed like he couldn’t be happier after he agreed to spend five years in prison for attacking an inmate and holding others hostage with a homemade knife.
“Hell, I’ve never been better,” the 34-year-old Dunnellon man said Monday morning as he walked into Circuit Court Judge Richard “Ric” Howard’s courtroom before his hearing. “I’ve never had a better deal.”
Assistant State Attorney Blake Shore and Smith’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ed Spaight, had negotiated the punishment for Smith’s May charges of possessing contraband, battering an inmate, criminal mischief and three counts of false imprisonment.
Smith is already serving two concurrent life sentences from August for strangling 73-year-old James Thomas Roman in April 2017 during a burglary of Roman’s Lecanto home.
He pleaded guilty to his first-degree murder and armed burglary charges, avoiding a possible death sentence by lethal injection.
At Monday’s hearing, Howard accepted Smith’s no contest plea to May’s offenses and sentenced him as a habitual felony offender, in accordance with the plea deal.
Afterwards. Smith thanked the judge, who did not have a part in plea negotiations.
“A lot of people are scared of you, but you’re a pretty fair dude,” Smith told Howard.
Smith’s co-defendant in that case, 25-year-old Sara Jane Atwood, will be sentenced on Sept. 24 for her role. Atwood, of Inverness, pleaded guilty in July to her second-degree murder and armed burglary charges.
On May 5, while Smith was awaiting — without bond — the resolution of his murder case at the Citrus County Detention Facility, he ran up to another inmate inside a jail housing unit and struck him several times in the face with a closed fist until the inmate fell, reports show.
Smith then threw objects at a surveillance camera that was recording the incident, knocking it down.
Afterwards, Smith grabbed a shank, which he had made by sharpening down a toilet brush handle, and held a few inmates hostage.
Spaight clarified to Howard those inmates weren’t held against their will, but ordered by jail guards to stay in their cells.
Following roughly an hour of negotiations with corrections officers, Smith surrendered.
Part of Smith’s plea deal allowed him to get a Burger King meal, which the state did not pay for, Shore noted.
“I got two life sentences,” Smith said about the Whopper burger and large fries. “So I guess it shouldn’t matter.”
Meth trafficker agrees to leave sentencing up to judge
Stephanie Ann Revel left her fate in a judge’s hands for trafficking in methamphetamine and having other drugs.
Revel, 34, of Crystal River, was set to stand trial this week for trafficking in 14.87 grams of meth, possessing 0.5 grams of heroin and possessing two alprazolam pills — drugs seized by Citrus County Sheriffs Office deputies during a March traffic stop.
However, at the end of her Monday morning court hearing, she pleaded no contest to her charges in exchange for Howard to sentence her on Thursday to between 3 and 40 years in prison.
Prior to changing her not guilty plea, Revel pleaded for Howard and Assistant State Attorney Erin Leathers to offer her three years behind bars — the minimum-mandatory punishment for trafficking in between 14 and 28 grams of meth.
Neither Howard or Leathers — whose current offer was 10 years — would negotiate. Revel’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Luke Waatti, suggested to Revel that she take Leathers’ offer, based on the amount of evidence against her.
“You could either plead open, go to trial or accept the state’s offer,” Howard told Revel. “Listen to your attorney’s good advice.”
Revel, who has one prior felony conviction of resisting police with violence, opted to leave it up to Howard.