Former gang leader Thomas "Mad Dog" Smith sentenced to three consecutive life terms for murder.
The courtroom ordeal for the families of Paris Harbin and Chandy Bresee-Plumb ended Friday when Federal Magistrate Judge Gary Fenner sentenced former gang leader Thomas "Mad Dog" Smith to three consecutive life terms for their murder, but the mourning goes on.
"It was just killing us for him to stand there and say he has no remorse," said Paris Harbin's grandmother Jessielene Harbin of Joplin after the sentencing hearing at the federal courthouse in Springfield. "That's my tax money that's going to let him live the life of Riley in prison. I'm an older woman and I still have to work. He wasn't sentenced to death, but he will meet his own death in prison."
Smith was convicted Feb. 7 of two counts of first degree murder in the execution-style killings of Harbin and Bresee-Plumb in their south-Joplin home in December 1999.
He was sentenced Friday to three consecutive life terms, plus 30 years in federal prison.
According to the U.S. attorney's office, on the first day of the trial, Smith pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine in Jasper County from as early as January 1999 to December 2000. Each of those convictions resulted in a term of life imprisonment in Friday’s sentence, which the court ordered to be served consecutively.
Smith and other members of the gang moved to Joplin from Tulsa, Okla., bringing a wave of drug distribution and drug-related violence from 1999 through 2001. Smith, who believed that Harbin was involved in the theft of money and a large quantity of crack cocaine from his crack house, confronted him in an upstairs bedroom at a friend's apartment and shot each of the victims twice Dec. 13, 1999.
Smith is the final co-defendant to be sentenced on charges contained in the May 2, 2002, federal indictment and subsequent superseding indictments.
Smith had plenty to say before sentence was pronounced.
He said he knew he'd spend the rest of his life in prison when he was arrested in 2002, but he had no remorse for the life he led.
"I would like to feel some remorse, some regret, but I don't," Smith said when given the chance to make a statement by the judge. "I've not lost one night's sleep over anything that has happened, and I won't. It's been a long road, and I guess I'm at the end of it."
Smith went on to congratulate the Joplin Police Department for "manufacturing the evidence against me," and accused federal prosecutor David Rush of being "drunk" for calling some of the witnesses he called. He also said he considered the outcome of the case a win because he wasn't sentenced to death.
That statement about Rush drew a rebuke from Fenner.
"It is absolutely disgusting, but also typical of the attitude you've exhibited, for you to make the statements about the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Rush, that you made here," Fenner said. "But I don't put much credence in things you say. You've not hardly ever done the right thing, and you knew what you were doing."
For the Harbin and Bresee families, Friday marked the end of hundreds of days spent in courtrooms reliving over and over the deaths of their loved ones. Smith was the last of three defendants directly accused in the deaths of Harbin and Plumb.
Paris Harbin's mother, Cheryl Stephens, said the mourning continues for her and Paris' two children, a boy, 12, and a girl, 10, but she took heart in the judge's words admonishing the family to move on and raise those children to live different lives.
"All we can do is raise those kids not to end up like that Mad Dog," Stephens said. "He's a good example of a bad man."