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Murder defendant urged to plead guilty by convicted former girlfriend

East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty in a murder case involving Dominique Dantoni Smith, a man accused of taking the life of his former girlfriend and her 3-year-old son. In that incident, which reportedly took place at a park near Zachary in May 2008, Smith was also accused of cutting the throat of his ex-girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.

In 2011, Smith's then-lover Trendall Lashel Matthews, pleaded guilty in the case to two counts each of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison. Now she feels he must "take responsibility." Smith previously declined an offer to plead guilty in return for a life sentence. Now, Matthews is urging Smith to admit to the murder.

According to testimony given by her in court, Smith committed the murders in her sight while she did nothing to stop him. Nor did she contact police afterward. But according to Smith, Matthews had a more active role in the murders. He says that he grabbed the hands of one of the victims while she attacked her, and that they both purchased new clothes at an area store and used lighter fluid to burn the clothes the victims were wearing.

Smith's attorneys have sought to have certain evidence removed from the case, particularly letters Smith allegedly sent to Matthews while both were in jail. The judge in charge of the case has said he will likely not suppress the letters, though.

The case is obviously one in which there is a good deal of evidence implicating both parties. One thing this case makes clear, though, is how conflicting testimony can complicate a trial. In such cases, having a strong advocate is invaluable.

Source: The Advocate, "Woman urges ex-lover to admit to murder," Joe Gyan Jr., February 21, 2013

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