A Fayette County jury found a Lexington man guilty of murder for gunning down a repo man who was taking his car.
An eight-woman, four-man jury recommended a 40-year-sentence for Brandon C. Robinson, who fired 12 bullets at David S. Smith, 45, while he was repossessing Robinson's white Oldsmobile Cutlass on June 28, 2007, on Laredo Drive.
Jurors urged an additional five years for tampering with evidence, for a total recommendation of 45 years in prison.
Circuit Judge Thomas Clark will consider the recommendation at an April 10 sentencing hearing.
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Smith's oldest son, Erik S. Smith, said he was satisfied with the recommendation. He noted that the sentence was equal to his father's age when he was killed.
Defense lawyers had asked jurors to convict Robinson, 22, of a lesser offense, first-degree manslaughter. They said Robinson was acting under extreme emotional disturbance.
Robinson had problems with the car from day one, attorney Tucker Richardson said. Earlier in the day he had gotten into a heated telephone argument with Chris Mackey, of Cars R Us. Robinson threatened to stop making payments.
Even though Robinson was up to date on his payments, Richardson said, Mackey decided to repossess the car.
"I am not saying let him go. Brandon is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree," Richardson told jurors. "If you do that, I think you will see that justice will be done."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kimberly Henderson Baird, in a closing argument that lasted nearly an hour, noted that Robinson originally told police that he grabbed a gun by his couch, loaded it and went after Smith. Baird said that's evidence that he intended to kill Smith.
Defense attorneys say Robinson happened to be putting his gun away in his bedroom when his girlfriend's mother told him the car was being stolen.
Baird said defense attorneys were trying to distract jurors by focusing on the business practices of the car dealer. She urged jurors to convict Robinson of intentional murder.
"There is no reasonable excuse for what he did," Baird said.
During the sentencing phase, Erik Smith testified that his father was a kind-hearted and gregarious fellow. His death has been tough on the family.
"His phone number is still in my phone because I can't bring myself to delete it," Smith said.