published Saturday, June 9th, 2012

'You took my whole family'

Seara Adair, sister of shooting victim Krista Babb, 14, addresses Daniel Densmore on Friday afternoon. Densmore entered a guilty plea in Judge Cindy Morris's courtroom to the 2011 murders of Julious Wayne Smith and Babb. He received two life sentences.
Seara Adair, sister of shooting victim Krista Babb, 14, addresses Daniel Densmore on Friday afternoon. Densmore entered a guilty plea in Judge Cindy Morris's courtroom to the 2011 murders of Julious Wayne Smith and Babb. He received two life sentences.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

DALTON, Ga. -- The sister of a 14-year-old killed last year along with the girls' fatherlike friend stood in court Friday and told the killer he had taken everything and begged the judge for a harsher sentence.

"He took my whole family from me," said Seara Adair. "I hope that rests on his conscience for the rest of his life."

Daniel Densmore, 33, dressed in a red jail jumpsuit and chained around the waist, didn't look up at Adair. But his mother sat on the front row and clutched her chest, trying not to cry.

When Densmore agreed with prosecutors that he had shot 61-year-old Julious Wayne Smith three times and Krista Babb once, killing them both on Sept. 17, 2011, he brushed away tears from his face.

But to Adair's disappointment, Densmore declined to speak when he was given a chance to offer any explanation for why he would kill a man he looked up to or a teenage girl who just happened to be in Smith's house at the time.

Adair, 21, who lost her mother to a stroke a month after the deaths of her sister and "Uncle Wayne," recently began an online petition, asking the judge to decline a prosecutor's plea deal. She wanted Densmore to be tried by a jury and face the death penalty.

But Whitfield County Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris said she was bound by the law and, in the end, she sentenced Densmore to two life sentences without the possibility of parole on two counts of murder.

Conasauga District Attorney Bert Poston said the negotiated plea deal came after several meetings with family members from both sides, starting in the fall of 2011. The case against Densmore qualified for the death penalty, Poston said, and family members were told the case against him was strong but not guaranteed.

Prosecutors then talked with Densmore's attorneys, and he agreed to take the deal.

Smith's family agreed with the decision, hoping to bypass a trial and agreed with prosecutors to ask for a life sentence, he said.

Adair was the only one who objected.

"I wish that I could have resolved the case in a manner that was agreeable to all of the surviving family members of the two victims but that was simply not possible," Poston wrote in an email Friday.

Evidence shows Densmore bought a .25-caliber pistol at a flea market the morning of the shooting, then went to Smith's house, Poston said. Smith was shot twice with the handgun and once with a .38-caliber revolver that belonged to Smith.

Authorities believe Krista was sleeping in the back bedroom after staying the night at Smith's house. Adair said that was normal for her and her sister because Smith helped raise both of them.

When Krista came out the bedroom, Densmore shot her once, authorities said.

Densmore then left the home, bought gasoline and came back to set the house on fire, trying to destroy evidence. He also stole Smith's wallet and the revolver.

Family and friends of Smith have said that the older man would offer to help Densmore out and lend him money when he asked.

When Densmore was arrested, he first told police that, when he left Smith's house, the man was still alive, Poston said. But then he changed his story, saying he shot Smith in self-defense after the two argued about Smith's relationship with Krista. He claimed Krista had been shot in crossfire.

But evidence from the scene contradicted Densmore's account and Krista's autopsy showed there was nothing inappropriate between her and Smith, Poston said.

But even Poston couldn't offer an explanation for why Densmore shot his friend or why, if he needed money, he needed a gun when Smith simply had lent him money in the past.

"[Densmore] can answer that question I suppose, but has not," Poston said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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