At the age of 15, LaKeith Smith was taken into custody for the murder of his friend A'donte Washington who was killed by the police; an undisputed fact. After being sentenced to 65 years in maximum security, a team of advocates came together to save LaKeith's life from a sentence to die in prison. In 2015, LaKeith Smith and five other young boys broke into two residential homes during the day. At the age of 15, LaKeith was the youngest of the group. In response, the police were called to the scene and gunfire erupted. Amidst the conflict and being frightened by the sounds of gunshots, LaKeith ran away and hid. His friend, A’Donte Washington, 16, was tragically shot and killed by the officer during an alleged shoot-out between the two - a shoot-out that was both incorrectly reported and contradicted by ballistic reports. Despite his lack of involvement, LaKeith was charged and tried for the murder of A’Donte Washington. At 15, Lakieth Smith was NOT offered juvenile detention. Instead, the DA transferred LaKeith to an adult court and offered him a plea deal of “only” 25 years. LaKeith, being a child with a life ahead of him, declined the plea deal and exercised his constitutional right to a trial. Ultimately, when LaKeith was given his day in court, he was found guilty of all counts by an all-white jury. When it came to his sentencing, the judge subjected LaKeith to a 65-year sentence in prison (30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary, and 10 years each for two theft convictions to run consecutively). Only recently has his sentence been reduced to 55 years and none of the reduction came from an acquittal of murder. LaKeith Smith remains confined in Saint Clair, one of America's most dangerous maximum-security prisons. LaKeith was non-violent, he did not endanger anyone, and he certainly did not fire the bullet that murdered his friend. It is likely that if LaKeith had been tried as a juvenile and/or tried appropriately for the burglary, he would be free today. He has served 7 years of his 55 year sentence. With a 15% approval rate in 2021, Alabama’s judiciary is setting LaKeith up to remain in prison until he is 70 years old. In a study conducted by the CDC, data shows the average life expectancy for a Black man in America is 72.2 years old. LaKeith Smith has essentially received a life sentence for a crime he never committed. It has been almost two years since the JUSTICE4LAKEITHSMITH campaign started. Since then, a team of advocates have been fighting to save LaKeith from dying in prison. We ask for your help. Please share this petition and support the campaign to help us raise awareness about his story and reach decision-makers that can vacate the murder conviction. Thank you.
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