State Supreme Court upholds death sentence
CARSON CITY (AP) – Joe Weldon Smith’s death sentence for the murder of a stepdaughter in their southern Nevada home in 1990 was upheld Monday by the state Supreme Court.
The high court rejected claims of ineffective counsel based on several grounds in ruling against Smith, who was convicted of murdering his wife, Judith Cox, 47, and her daughters Kristy, 12, and Wendy, 20.
Justices previously had upheld Smith’s no-parole life sentence for killing his wife, and had changed a death sentence imposed for Kristy’s murder to a no-parole life term. That left the death sentence for Wendy’s slaying, which was preserved in the high court’s latest decision.
Smith also was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for trying to kill his landlord, Frank Allen, when Allen arrived at the house in Green Valley after the murders.
Smith fled Nevada after the slayings, and was on the run for six months before he was captured in California.
At one point he claimed Allen was the killer because he was angry that Smith owed him money. On another occasion, Smith claimed Colombian drug dealers killed the victims, and said he attacked Allen because he believed he had to protect himself.
Trial testimony in 1991 indicated Smith went from room to room beating and then strangling his victims.
Allen testified that he went to the home to pick up two checks Smith had promised him as part of a deal to purchase the house, and found Smith crouching in a corner. He said that Smith attacked him and he had to crash through a glass door to escape.