(Carrollton, GA) – Herman Lee Smith, III was sentenced by Judge John Simpson to life in prison plus 10 years Thursday afternoon at the Carroll County Courthouse, meaning he will not be eligible for parole for at least 30 years.
Smith was found guilty on six of the eight counts he was charged with by a Carroll County jury earlier this month — for his actions last November at Club 100 in Bowdon — where Franklin resident Cardarius Steagall was shot and killed.
Smith told investigators 12 hours after the shooting that he played no part in the killing and had never even owned a gun before. A few weeks later his story changed dramatically as he claimed he had killed Steagall that night in self-defense.
Cardarius Steagall’s aunt, Brenda Cheeks, speaks to Judge Simpson at the sentencing Thursday afternoon
Smith was present in the courtroom Thursday wearing an orange and white striped jail uniform.
About a dozen of Steagall’s family members were on hand his Auntie, Brenda Cheeks, spoke to Judge Simpson on behalf of the family. “The devastation of his (Steagall) murder is unimaginable to anyone that has not experienced a loss of this nature. Cardarius was a son, a father, a brother and a valued member to our family. He had every expectation to live a productive and fulfilling life.”
Cheeks also asked the Judge to sentence Smith at the full extent of the law: ”We place our faith in God and in the judicial system of the United States. On behalf of my family, I ask that Herman be put away for the rest of his life and my life, and that he is not eligible for parole.”
Herman Smith also made a statement to the judge just before he was sentenced to life in prison on a felony murder charge and two consecutive five-year sentences on related gun charges.
“I wanted to state to the family that I never intended for this to happen. I honestly never did,” said Smith as Steagall family members became very emotional. ”I never intended for none of this to happen, and I pray nights — numerous nights — that y’all somehow have forgiveness in your hearts for me because I never did want to do this. It would never have happened if I was not scared for my life, if I was not defending my life. It would never have happened. I promise that from the bottom of my heart, from God’s honest truth.”
For the other three charges, Smith was sentenced to concurrent prison time meaning they could be served at the same time as the 30-year murder sentence.
Brenda Cheeks spoke about Steagall’s son Isiah, who was four months old at the time of his father’s death.
“If we each reach deep down inside of us to that fire inside of us — we can use it to light the way to make our lives better from this day forward,” said Cheeks. “We seize faith, we shake its tail — and bend it to our will, focusing on his son, Isaiah, helping him to become a productive, educated, God-fearing citizen.”