Clay King Smith

As the families of his victims watched, Clay King Smith was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night for murdering two women and three children in 1998.

Smith, 30, a former Bible student from Jefferson County, was executed at the Cummins Correctional Unit for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend Misty Erwin, 20; her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24; Sorg’s two children, Sean Michael, 5; and Taylor 3; and 12-year-old family friend, Samantha Rhodes.

In his last words, Smith apologized to his victims’ family members. While strapped to a gurney at the Cummins Correctional Unit he spoke to four family members of his victims as they watched on a closed circuit television. “I’d like to say I’m sorry about what I did to the victims’ families. I hope your hearts heal. I love my family. I love my family.”

At 9:03 p.m. a lethal mix of chemicals was injected into into his arm. His eyes fluttered as he took three deep breaths. He was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.

Smith’s spiritual advisor, the Rev. Robby Mitchell, of El Dorado, said Smith appeared very calm prior to the execution. “He was upbeat, calm and full of peace,” Mitchell said. “He told me he loved me and he had made his peace with God. He said when he took his last breath it would not be the end and he would see me again.”

Mitchell said Smith told him he lost his walk with the Lord and got involved in satanism and drugs. Mitchell attributed the murders to the power of drugs. “He was a very kindhearted man,” Mitchell said. “It just shows the power of drugs.”

Despite candlelight vigils at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, there were no demonstrators on the grounds at Cummins.

The bodies of Smith’s victims were found on March 25, 1998, in a mobile home at 3105 Pinto Road in Jefferson County where Smith had lived with Erwin. He was arrested the following day in Lincoln County.

Two days before the murders, Erwin reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that she had been battered by Smith and was going to move out. When a deputy accompanied her to her home to get her belongings, Erwin found Smith there and decided not to press charges.

Smith offered no witnesses at trial and waived his right to appeal but prior to the execution he wrote letters to the victims’ families saying that he would appeal if they asked him. No one did. Smith’s Little Rock attorney Tammy Harris, who spoke to him minutes before the execution, said he told her he had made his decision and was going through with the execution. “He said he had made his peace and was resolved to go through with it,” Harris said.

Smith was the third consecutive death row inmate to waive at least part of his appeal rights. David Dewayne Johnson, executed Dec. 19, 2000, and Christina Marie Riggs, executed May 2, 2000, both waived part or all of their rights. Smith’s execution was the 195th in Arkansas since 1913 when the state took over executions and the 24th since the state resumed killing death row inmates in 1990.

CRIME & COURTS