An Ohio man who admitted to killing his girlfriend’s 6-month-old daughter but insisted there were extenuating circumstances — that he had meant only to rape the infant — will never hurt anyone again. Steven Smith, 46, was executed Wednesday morning for the 1998 murder of Autumn Carter.
Despite filing a motion for clemency in early April on the outrageous grounds cited above, Smith was given a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 10:29 a.m. as his wife and daughter looked on.
The Washington Post reports that his victim’s mother, Kesha Frye, watched as well, accompanied by her aunt.
The sordid tale that ended today with the carrying out of Smith’s sentence began on Sept. 29, 1998, when Frye was awakened by Smith, who hled in his arms a naked and apparently lifeless Autumn.
Frye rushed the baby and her other 2-year-old daughter to a neighbor’s house and phoned 911. But it was too late. Autumn was pronounced dead after doctors spent more than an hour attempting to revive her.
Smith was arrested. At the time, he told police that he “didn’t do anything,” adding “I’m not sick like that.”
At trial, expert witnesses for Smith testified that he might have accidentally suffocated the girl within three to five minutes of the assault. He was nevertheless found guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced to death.
At an April 2 hearing before Ohio Parole Board, in which Smith sought to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison, he admitted to killing the infant but said that was not his intention. He also told the board that he was not in his right mind the night of the crime and wished he could ask Autumn for forgiveness.
The board and Gov. John Kasich unanimously turned him down, with the board calling him “the worst of the worst.” In its decision, the board wrote:
Smith took the life of an innocent 6-month-old infant while using the baby to sexually gratify himself. It is hard to fathom a crime more repulsive or reprehensible in character.
Smith became the 51st inmate put to be executed in Ohio since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1999.
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