published Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Woman asks judge to deny plea deal for man charged with killing and burning her sister

Daniel Densmore is seen in this file photo.
Daniel Densmore is seen in this file photo.
Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Poll
Should Daniel Densmore be offered a plea deal?

A 21-year-old woman opposes a life sentence for the man charged with killing and burning her teenage half sister and a man she and her sister looked up to like a father.

Seara Adair said Daniel Densmore is expected to accept a plea deal this week and prosecutors told her they will request that the 33-year-old be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston said Tuesday that he can't comment on a pending case and wouldn't confirm whether he will offer a plea deal to Densmore in a hearing set for Friday.

"It would be a violation of the rules of ethics for me as a prosecutor to discuss what negotiations, if any, are going on in a pending case," he said in an email.

Densmore's attorney, public defender Mike McCarthy, didn't return calls seeking comment.

Adair said the plea deal is not good enough and is asking a judge to reject the deal. She wants Densmore to go before a jury to possibly get the death penalty for the death of 14-year-old Krista Babb and 61-year-old Julious Wayne Smith, who were shot to death, then their bodies burned. "I don't think he has the right to just plead out," she said. "My sister and my uncle Wayne didn't get a chance to plead for their life."

After learning Monday that Densmore wouldn't likely go to trial, Adair started an online petition asking the judge not to accept the plea deal. By Tuesday afternoon she had 284 signatures.

"It's my last chance to change anything. The judge is my last chance," she said.

Krista and Smith were found dead inside Smith's house in Rocky Face on Sept. 17. Police believe Densmore robbed Smith, but ended up shooting him and the teenager -- whom Smith mentored -- then tried to burn their bodies to cover the evidence.

After the killings, friends and family members said Smith was also a father figure to Densmore and had helped the younger man get back on his feet.

Police charged Densmore with two counts of felony murder and one count each of arson, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. At the time of Densmore's arrest in September, former District Attorney Kermit McManus said the killings were the worst homicides he'd ever seen and that Densmore likely qualified for the death penalty.

Now Adair said she doesn't understand why prosecutors won't ask for the death penalty. She said she is Krista's only family member still alive since their mother died from a stroke a month after her daughter's death.

She said she and Smith's family met with prosecutors last week after Densmore was indicted and discussed the case. That's when Adair said she was told there was an "almost 100 percent" chance Densmore could get a guilty verdict based on the evidence against him, but prosecutors said they were likely going to offer a plea deal.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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