Probation revoked, years added to murderer's life sentence

February 16, 2013 11:17:39 PM

Sarah Fowler - [email protected]


Convicted murderer Joe Earl Smith's probation was revoked and three years were added to his life sentence during a probation violation hearing Friday in Lowndes County Circuit Court. 


Smith, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith's nephew, pleaded guilty to capital murder in the 2010 death of Linda Snell, who was fatally beaten by Smith while he was out on probation.  


Smith had pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, more than one-tenth of a gram but less than two grams, on Aug. 29, 2008, and Judge Jim Kitchens had sentenced him to five years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and three years post-release supervision.  


Two years and one day later, Smith broke into Snell's Cypress Grove apartment and beat her to death. He then turned the thermostat down, stole her vehicle and fled the scene. He was located in Macon the next day, still driving her vehicle.  


Smith and Snell had been involved in a prior relationship but were no longer together at the time of her death. The night before she was killed, Smith followed Snell and a friend and ran them off the road, threatening to kill her. When friends could not reach Snell the following morning, they called authorities.  


After Snell's death, Smith was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of capital murder. He is currently serving a life sentence in Rankin County.  


"He was out and about in the free world," Kitchens said, explaining that even though Smith is serving a life sentence, adding the three years for violation of probation is the law.  


Smith, who is being represented by local attorney Steve Wallace, smirked and laughed throughout the hearing. When Kitchens informed him that three years would be added to his sentence, Smith asked the judge a question: "How do you serve that consecutive? Do I have to die and come back and serve?" 


"If you can do that, we'll be waiting for you," Kitchens responded.

Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.