The murder case of Stephen Smith has ended in a plea of guilty on one count of manslaughter in the death of 14-year-old Joshua Mullins.
Smith was sentenced to six years in the Department of Correction. The 441 days he has already spent in jail will count toward the sentence. Manslaughter is a class C felony.
"He's pretty well pleased," Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger said of Smith's reaction. "It could have been 30 years."
"I think his aunt and uncle encouraged him (to plea)," Dillinger said.
"I don't agree with it but I want it over," said Tywana Mullins, mother of Joshua Mullins.
Dillinger said Smith will be sent to Pine Bluff for evaluation and then spend time within the Arkansas Department of Correction when space is available.
Smith killed Joshua Mullins with a .20-gauge shotgun on May 25, 2005, at his residence near Mammoth Spring. Smith claimed it was an accident which happened while he and Mullins wrestled with a gun between them.
Smith had been living alone in the house since his father's death in 2004.
Prosecutors decided to press first degree murder charges against Smith in the incident. If convicted on that charge he could have been sentenced to life in prison.
Smith's attorney, Bradley Sipe, sought to have Smith tried as a juvenile in the early weeks of the case. Fulton County Circuit Judge Tim Weaver sided with the prosecution which sought to press charges as an adult. "This was a violent and serious act," Weaver said on Aug. 17, 2005. "Nothing is more serious or violent than a shotgun blast to the face."
Smith will stay in Fulton County Jail until there is space for him in the Department of Correction. Dillinger said Smith could be out of prison on parole in as little as one year. He said Smith has no plans to return to Mammoth Spring.
Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice or premeditation, either express or implied; distinguished from murder, which requires malicious intent.