Brittany Smith, the Alabama woman who faces life in prison for killing a man who allegedly raped her twice and attacked her brother
Brittany Smith was indicted with murder for the incident and is now anxiously awaiting to see if the case will proceed to trial
An Alabama woman who killed her alleged rapist and was previously found mentally unfit to stand trial still faces the possibility of being sentenced to a lifetime in prison after being charged with murder for the crime.
It was a charge Brittany Smith had been indicted with in January 2018, when she shot and killed Joshua Todd Smith at her home in Stevenson, Alabama, near Tennessee's southern border, after he got into an altercation with her brother, Chris McCallie, who had come to the residence in an attempt to save her.
To understand how they had reached that point, you can trace their story back to a month earlier, which is when Britanny started messaging Todd about a pit bull he had advertised on Facebook. Because she had just separated from her husband, Todd made romantic advances, all of which Brittany brushed away.
Eventually, on January 14, she drove with her mother to his Tennessee home to purchase a puppy. The next day, he texted her to tell her that he was stranded near the Tennessee and Alabama border and asked for help, to which Brittany reluctantly agreed.
That same evening, while he was staying at her house, he pressed her on why she wasn't romantically interested in him, and when she told him she "never saw him that way," he got violent. In a police statement, she said he called her a "b****" and chased her to a bedroom, where he began to choke her. She said she passed out and later woke up to find him attacking her again.
He allegedly raped her twice and then threatened to kill her and her family if she ever told anyone about it. Then, craving cigarettes, he made her take him to a nearby convenience store, which is where Brittany managed to slip a note to a cashier in which she wrote that if she were found dead, it would be the fault of Todd Smith of Jasper, Tennessee.
She was so scared, she didn't even tell her brother, who lived close to her home with their mother and who drove them to the store, about the rape and attack. Instead, she quietly directed him to go speak to the clerk at the convenience store. Around the same time, 1:16 am on January 16, she frantically texted her mother, "Mom Todd has tried to kill me literally. Don’t act like anything is wrong… he will kill me if he knows."
Chris, in the meantime, had worked out what was happening and arrived at his sister's home armed with a pistol. Britanny said he placed his gun on the kitchen counter and gave Todd a warning, but that the latter ignored it and put her brother in a headlock. At this point, Brittany said she ran into the kitchen, grabbed the gun and shot several times. She then called 911, and despite the best efforts of paramedics, Todd could not be saved.
She told investigators that day that she had shot him after he had become violent against her and raped her — a rape crisis report filed in connection to the incident described 33 wounds on her body, including bite marks on her neck and chin. A toxicology exam found meth and alcohol in Todd's system as well.
Yet, during a preliminary hearing in March 2018, Alabama Circuit Court Judge Don Word found probable cause to charge Brittany with murder, reported The Appeal. Jackson County District Attorney Jason Rupert Pierce subsequently convened a grand jury and successfully obtained a murder indictment. Key to obtaining the indictment was the testimony of the lead investigator for the sheriff’s department, who revealed that the bruises on Brittany were not consistent with the statement she had given detectives.
Nevertheless, it was still surprising, especially considering Alabama is one of 25 states in the country with a 'Stand Your Ground' law that allows for use of lethal force in several circumstances, including ones where the defendant fears they might be raped or killed by their attacker. There's a precedent to not charge her as well. Just last year, a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Jacqueline Dixon, who was similarly facing charges of murder for killing her abusive husband.
Brittany, who was held in Jackson County Jail for more than two months after the incident because she could not afford the $100,000 bond, was eventually released on a reduced $50,000 bond in April 2018. But her predicament did not end there.
In December 2018, she underwent a psychiatric evaluation at her attorney's request, and in early February, a judge ruled she was not competent to stand trial. A court order issued read, "The defendant is mentally ill or has a mental defect; that as a consequence of such mental illness or defect poses a real threat of substantial harm to himself or herself or others." She was incarcerated at a county jail once again for a month because she had to wait for a bed at the state psychiatric hospital.
Now, she's in a waiting list of approximately 160 patients who all have to be evaluated by a psychologist. She's also anxiously waiting for a hearing where her attorney will argue the merits of her Stand Your Ground case. Depending on how that goes, a judge will either find she was acting in accordance with state law and throw out the murder charge or the case will proceed to trial, where she will have to argue self-defense and hope a jury rules in her favor.