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Judge adds 80 years to killer's sentence

March 13, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Describing the murder of 14-year-old Miana Stewart as the most troubling and saddest case he has seen in all of his years on the bench, 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders on Monday added 80 years to Roger Dwayne Smith's life sentence in prison for the Gerrardstown, W.Va., girl's death in October 2005.

"This case strikes at all the fundamental suppositions that we have," said Sanders, who offered Smith no reprieve on his 26th birthday.

In December, Smith entered guilty pleas to possession of stolen vehicle, attempted murder, malicious wounding, fleeing on foot from an officer, first-degree robbery and first-degree murder. Days later, a jury decided that mercy not be attached to Smith's murder conviction, meaning he would never be eligible for parole.

On Monday, Sanders trumped Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely's request that Smith be sentenced to 60 years in prison for the robbery conviction, the maximum she had seen before.

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"I was thrilled to death when the judge said 80," Games-Neely said later at her office. "It exceeded my expectations."

The judge also ordered the 80-year prison sentence be served consecutive to the life sentence and indeterminate terms of one to 10 years for possession of a stolen vehicle, two to 10 years for malicious wounding, three to 15 years for attempted murder and one year for fleeing on foot. Smith also is expected to pay $7,505 in restitution.

Smith has one month to notify the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia if he intends to appeal the case and four months to file the appeal.

Sanders announced his sentencing terms after Miana Stewart's parents, aunt and Smith each read prepared statements.

"I will never forgive you," Miana's father, Randy Stewart, told Smith. "If I had the opportunity, I'd rip your heart out with my bare hands."

Randy Stewart described Smith's apology earlier in the hearing as a "con - just like you" and told his daughter's killer that he was one of the "monsters of our society" and that he was the "worst of the worst."

In December, Smith admitted to the Oct. 13, 2005, killing of Stewart's daughter in the basement of her home, where she was bound to a weight bench and gagged with adhesive tape soon after arriving home from school.

Police believe Miana disrupted Smith's burglary of the Reunion Corner Road home about 3 p.m., and when her mother arrived home from work about an hour later, Smith struck her with a baseball bat three times and bound and gagged her before dragging her down the flight of steps to the basement.

On Monday, Miana's mother, Mary Stewart, said her only child was the "center of my world" and regretted not being able to see Miana get a driver's license and grow up to reach other life achievements.

"She was really looking forward to that," said Mary Stewart, who noted that she had saved her wedding dress for the possibility that she would have a daughter.

"It still seems so unbelievable that it all could be ripped away by a piece of scum," Mary Stewart said.

"He didn't care who we were or what a nice person she was," Mary Stewart said. "He didn't care about her gasping for her last breath."

"I saw him purposely kill Miana ... It wasn't an accident."

In between sobs, Smith said he was deeply sorry for the pain and suffering he caused and maintained that Miana Stewart's death was not supposed to happen.

"I wish that none of it would have taken place," Smith said. He later said that he knows a lot of people think he is a heartless person, but insisted that he isn't.

"It was never meant to happen that way," Smith said.

Sanders offered his own assessment of the tragedy, which he said left many broken hearts and ripped apart the fabric of the southern Berkeley County community.

"I think he really thought he committed two murders," Sanders said.

The judge also recounted Mary Stewart's apparent numbness during the mercy hearing proceedings in December and how impossible it was for him to imagine the horror Stewart felt when she lost her only child.

"This case is the most troubling, saddest case that we've ever had before us in all the years that I've been on the bench," Sanders said.

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