A Wheaton man who killed four acquaintances in a week-long homicidal rampage in September 2003 was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole by a judge who called the slayings "brutal" and "gruesome."
In sentencing Evan D. Smyth, 41, to the prison term requested by prosecutors, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Louise G. Scrivener said, "I am satisfied that due to the horrific nature of these crimes, the fact that there were four separate murders at different times, that the appropriate sentence in this case is life in prison without the possibility of parole."
Smyth pleaded guilty April 29 to four counts of first-degree murder for killing four people from Sept. 11 to 18, 2003. Smyth killed two of his victims -- Tristan Offiah, 21, and Kay Carey, 42 -- with a shotgun, according to facts agreed upon in court by prosecutors and Smyth's attorneys. Another victim, Phillip Walker, 20, was stabbed eight times by Smyth and left in a car trunk. In the final killing, Smyth beat Shauntise Gill, 17, and strangled her with an electrical cord in the basement bedroom of his parents' Wheaton home.
Deputy Montgomery State's Attorney Katherine Winfree described in court her experience as a prosecutor in the District during the crack-fueled violence of the late 1980s. "We saw in those years a lot of violent crimes," she said. "But I never saw anything like what Mr. Smyth did."
Defense attorney Paul DeWolfe presented evidence yesterday that in the months before the killings, Smyth binged on alcohol and drugs. Witnesses said Smyth ingested large quantities of alcohol, cocaine, crack, PCP, heroin, LSD and other drugs. Smyth's wife, Veronica Smyth, testified yesterday that Smyth had abused drugs and alcohol since the two began dating, when he was 16 and she was 14.
Smyth was arrested Sept. 19, 2003, after an intense police manhunt that unfolded as Hurricane Isabel swept toward the region.
For police and prosecutors, the slayings were unusual because Smyth had no prior criminal record and there was little suggestion of violence or mental illness in his past. At the time of his arrest, Smyth and his wife had been married for 18 years. He has two children, ages 19 and 11. He taught plumbing at a federal Job Corps center.
Smyth grew up in a two-story house in a comfortable neighborhood in Silver Spring and graduated from Wheaton High School in 1981.
"I've been a practicing attorney for 25 years, and I've never seen anything like it," DeWolfe said. "A man with this background, with this family, to be capable of committing these horrendous acts. . . . There is no explanation."
Family members of Smyth's victims testified about their losses with tears and anger.
"This guy is an animal," testified Bobby Gill, father of Shauntise Gill. "I will never see my daughter again." He wore a T-shirt with his daughter's picture on it. "Look, look," he told the judge. "This is the only thing I have left of my baby."
After he was sentenced, Smyth, wearing a green jail jumpsuit, stood and spoke briefly from the defense table.
"I would like to apologize to the families, the victims' families, to the court," he said. "I would like to apologize to my family, my mom, my dad, my wife and kids. I'm deeply, deeply sorry about everything that happened. There's nothing I think I can say that will change anything, other than that I'm deeply sorry."