Ex-Meyers resident gets 25 years to life in prison | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ex-Meyers resident gets 25 years to life in prison

Jim Grant / Tribune file photoKonolus Smith, right, and his lawyer, Jordan Morgenstern, listen to the jury verdict in Smith's trial in December. Smith, who was convicted of spousal battery and making criminal threats, has been sentenced to two terms of 25 years to life in prison.

A former Meyers resident accused of trying to kill his wife by forcing her to swallow a combination of pills as he threatened her with scissors was sentenced Monday to two concurrent terms of 25 years to life in state prison.

In December, Konolus Smith was convicted of two felonies: spousal battery and making criminal threats. A mistrial was declared on charges of attempted murder and false imprisonment because of a juror’s misconduct.

Sentencing for Smith fell under California’s three-strikes law.

In 1974, Smith also was convicted of murder and attempted murder for his role in a grocery-store robbery in which two men were shot, one fatally.

On Monday in El Dorado Superior Court, Judge James Dawson denied a move by Smith’s attorney, Jordan Morgenstern, to strike the 1974 felonies from consideration during sentencing.

The convictions were the result of a “robbery gone bad,” Morgenstern contended. Realizing he had made a mistake, Smith left the store before the shootings, the attorney said.

“He didn’t even draw his gun,” Morgenstern said. “When the shots were fired, he wasn’t even there.”

Smith was paroled in 1981.

Morgenstern hinged his request for leniency on Smith’s many years without an arrest and his work as a psychiatric technician, calling Smith a “model citizen” several times.

Standing at a wooden railing, just feet behind her shackled son, Smith’s mother, Virginia Smith, was one of four people who spoke on his behalf before sentencing.

“He is not violent, and he has never killed anyone,” Virginia Smith said. “He went to jail, he paid for what he did.”

Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara disagreed with the woman’s assessment of her son, calling Konolus Smith a “sociopath” during arguments before sentencing.

Although Dawson praised the demeanor of Smith during the trial, he described Konolus Smith’s attack on his wife as one of “extreme violence.”

Morgenstern described the sentence as “essentially a life term” for Smith, who is in his 50s.

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