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Robbery getaway driver gets 93 years in prison

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

MORE: Read more Stafford County news

BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR

A Stafford County jury late Thursday recommended a 93-year prison term for the getaway driver in a robbery earlier this year during which two people were shot.

Clayton George Smith, 26, of Manassas was found guilty of eight charges following a day-long trial in Stafford Circuit Court. The charges included burglary while armed with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and two counts of robbery. He will be formally sentenced on Dec. 23 by Judge Charles Sharp.

Smith was convicted in a Jan. 29 home-invasion robbery at a home at 3927 Jefferson Davis Highway near Boswell’s Corner. According to evidence presented by prosecutors Kristin Bird and Michael Hardiman, at least three people wearing masks broke into the home and demanded money and drugs. At least three of the intruders had guns.

The three victims did not resist, but two of them—Warren Jackson and Jeffrey Hilton—were shot multiple times in the legs anyway.

Smith didn’t do the shooting, prosecutors said, but is responsible for it because he was part of the conspiracy.

The victims had no idea who the intruders were, but surveillance cameras in a nearby business parking lot showed four people leaving a car just prior to the robbery and returning to it right after it. The license number showed that the vehicle, which was running the entire time, belonged to Smith’s wife and mother-in-law.

Hardiman said that if the car had been parked just one space over, the cameras wouldn’t have picked it up.

Smith was driving the vehicle when police stopped it in Manassas the next day. Detective Michelle Gibbons said Smith told her he’d had the vehicle the night before but didn’t want his wife to know because he was with another woman.

The prosecution also presented evidence proving the Smith’s cell phone was used near the robbery scene the night of Jan. 29. Experts were able to track the phone from Prince William to Stafford and back that evening.

One of the guns used in the shooting, a .45-caliber gun, was recovered from the home of a co-defendant, Keith Daniel Williams. Williams and Smith are the only ones charged in the robbery, though police have identified three other suspects. Williams is scheduled for a jury trial in Stafford on Feb. 5.

Defense attorney Joshua Parrett argued that Smith was not involved in the robbery and tried to discredit the cellphone evidence. He also put on several witnesses, including Smith’s twin brother Payton Smith, who said Clayton Smith was with them that night.

Payton Smith said he and his brother were playing “Madden” all night at Payton’s Smith’s home in Dumfries. He said his brother didn’t leave until after midnight.

Prosecutors scoffed at Smith’s testimony, pointing out that cellphone records proved that the brothers had called each other several times during the evening; Payton Smith said they didn’t call each other because they were together.

“Unlike his brother, cellphones are not programmed to lie,” Hardiman said.

Both Jackson and Hilton said they are still walking with limps as the result of the shootings. About $300 in cash was taken from the victims.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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