This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. on June 6, 2012.
Prosecutors will ask for life without parole for a man convicted Wednesday afternoon in Frederick County Circuit Court of shooting his ex-girlfriend in front of her young son.
Melvin William Smith, 28, was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, stalking and use of a handgun in a violent crime in the July 2011 death of Tranice Richardson, 33, who was killed outside her apartment in Frederick’s Hillcrest Commons apartment complex in the area of Orchard Terrace and Hill Street.
Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith (R) said his office would definitely ask for a sentence of life in prison without parole at Smith’s sentencing, scheduled for the week of July 16. No specific sentencing date has been set.
“This man obviously wanted her dead, and he accomplished that,” Smith said. “And for that, he should spend the rest of his life in jail.”
Defense attorney Stephen Musselman couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Smith’s brother Gary Gray testified Smith had called him on July 17 when Smith reportedly was hiding from police in McKeesport, Pa.. Gray said they discussed Richardson’s death and that Smith told him, “She had to go.”
Smith and Richardson had a troubled, on-and-off relationship for seven years before her death, during which the couple had a son, Mekhai, in 2005.
In November 2009, Richardson filed an application for a protective order saying Smith had abused her and threatened her and her children. The application asked that Smith be required to stay away from Richardson’s home in Frederick and her children’s schools. A final protective order was dismissed after Richardson failed to appear for a hearing.
The trial included testimony from Richardson’s son Keanan, 9, who was walking with his mother when she was shot multiple times. In testimony that moved several jurors to tears, Keanan calmly identified Smith as the person who had shot her.
With his head peeking over the witness stand, Keanan answered questions from prosecutor Lindell Angel about the series of events leading up to his mother’s death.
Charlie Smith said it’s often easier for young witnesses to testify when they’re talking about something that didn’t happen directly to them, such as in sexual abuse cases.
Their testimony often is preceded by a pre-trial hearing, at which a judge and lawyers can evaluate the child’s ability to tell right from wrong and truth from fiction, Smith said.
“We want a credible witness,” Smith said. “We don’t want a child getting up there and saying, ‘Mommy told me to say this,’ or ‘Daddy told me to say this.’ That doesn’t help our case.”