Wednesday, May 18, 2011
A story dear to my heart is the long awaited justice to Sara Smart, a beautiful girl who was murdered by Jerry Raney, who has avoided sentencing for his involvement for three years.
Sara was best friends with Tommye Allen's daughter. Tommye, is a friend, who I became acquainted with, when she had her prayer group offer prayers for my brother. She has fought long and hard for justice for the Smart family and finally the prayers have been answered.
May 17, 2011
Raney pleads to manslaughter
Suspect gets 15 years in killing of stepdaughter found dead in barrel
By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer The Muskogee Phoenix Tue May 17, 2011, 11:53 PM CDT
Members of a slain 19-year-old woman’s family expressed satisfaction her stepfather will do time for her death. But some had hoped for more.
Jerry DeWitt Raney, 47, accused of killing Sara Smart, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter.
Raney, who maintains he didn’t kill Smart, was ordered to serve 15 years in prison. Raney will receive credit for the time he has served since his arrest Aug. 8, 2008, on a first-degree murder charge.
Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said the plea deal was made because most of the state’s evidence is circumstantial.
“There was a chance we could take this to trial and he would walk away a free man,” Moore said. “We had a lot of witnesses who all have little bits of evidence that pointed to Jerry Raney, but there was some evidence the defense had that pointed away from him.”
Moore said there was a consensus among Smart’s family members to accept the plea deal even though there were some who wanted to see Raney serve more prison time. Raney will have to serve 85 percent of the 15 years before he is eligible for parole.
Smart disappeared Jan. 30, 2006, after Raney said he dropped her off near the McDonald’s restaurant at the intersection of Okmulgee Ave. and U.S. 69. Her skeletal remains were found six months later inside a barrel that had been dumped in a pond west of Haskell.
More than a dozen of Smart’s friends and family members attended Raney’s plea hearing. Smart’s mother, Laura Morris, wept throughout. She declined to comment about her ex-husband’s plea or sentence.
Others expressed mixed emotions about Raney’s conviction and sentencing.
“This is not exactly what I expected, but it is a conviction and we’ll take it,” said Christene Smart-Leader, the teen’s stepmother. “He deserves a lot more, but we’ll take what we can get.”
Smart’s grandmother, Margie Hannah, said the matter now is in God’s hands.
“This 12 or 15 years — whatever it comes out to — it doesn’t matter,” Hannah said, holding back her tears while clutching a heart-shaped pendant that contains her granddaughter’s ashes. “God is the deciding factor, and he (Raney) has all of eternity to pay for what he’s done to my sweet granddaughter.”
Moore said a jailhouse informant said Raney had confided in him about what might have happened to Smart. The informant, Moore said, told investigators that Raney confronted Smart about a break-in at his shop. During the confrontation, Raney began choking Smart “and things got out of hand.”
Moore also said Raney had threatened to kill three of his former wives or girlfriends and dispose of their bodies in a manner similar to what was done to Smart.