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Archive for Friday, July 23, 1993

MURDER CONVICTION BRINGS 2 LIFE TERMS

July 23, 1993

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A 35-year-old Wichita man was sentenced on Thursday to two consecutive life prison sentences in connection with the shooting deaths of his former wife and her boyfriend.

Victor James Smith was sentenced by Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone after being convicted July 1 on two counts of first-degree murder.

Smith was found guilty by a jury of killing his former wife, Linda M. Smith, 34, and her fiance, John L. Pease, 47, in an early-morning shooting March 13 at Linda Smith's apartment in Lawrence.

Smith will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

After finding Smith guilty, the jury deadlocked on whether to send him to prison for a minimum of 40 years, leaving his sentence in the fate of a judge.

Smith showed no emotion while his sentence was being read on Thursday.

Before the sentence was read, Malone denied a motion by Smith's attorney, David Berkowitz, requesting a new trial.

Berkowitz then asked Malone to allow sentences for each of Smith's murder convictions to run concurrently.

Under those terms, Smith would have been eligible for parole after 15 years in prison.

"Fifteen years is certainly not getting off scot-free, it is a long time," Berkowitz said.

He added that Smith would be 66 years old before he would be eligible for parole if the sentences were ordered to run consecutively.

"Society doesn't have to have 30 years," he said.

But Malone said, "I believe it is important for the sentence to reflect the lives of both people, whose lives that you -- with premeditation and with cold blood -- took.

"There's been two deaths, but certainly there's been more than two tragedies," he said, adding that the families of the victims and a daughter of Linda and Victor Smith would be affected for a long time by the crimes.

"You will have a long time to think about this," Malone said. "I hope you make the most of your time in prison."

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