A Casper man has been sentenced for killing his wife in November of 2019.
Natrona County District Court Judge Catherine Wilking sentenced Rodney Hayes Smith II to 40-50 years in prison on Thursday for one count of manslaughter. His lengthy sentence comes as the result as being prosecuted under a habitual criminal enhancement.
Court documents state that Smith pleaded guilty to killing his wife during a domestic dispute, in which he admitted to striking his late wife, 42-year-old Anne Mae Smith, with his right elbow and then falling backward with her on top of him.
When Smith was first interviewed by Casper Police officers, he originally told them that his wife had gotten drunk and “fallen down the stairs,” according to court documents.
Smith said that he covered her up and carried her to bed, thinking “she was just severely intoxicated and needed to sleep.”
The next morning, at around 11 a.m., Smith said that he noticed the woman was not awake and thought it was odd because she was usually up at that hour on their days off from work. When Smith went to wake her up, he pulled the covers off of her and noticed she had “a blue discoloration to her skin.”
Court documents state that Smith touched the woman and “felt she was stiff and knew she was deceased.” Smith called 911 immediately and emergency responders arrived shortly thereafter.
“Several things in the home were found that seemed odd, but nothing was located that showed direct evidence to the circumstances Rodney S. claimed happened,” the affidavit states. However, a police officer told a detective that he believed Smith was deleting images and text messages from his phone while police processed the scene.
When questioned about his phone, Smith told the detective that he had taken one photo of his wife during the incident and sent it to one of his daughters. The photo reportedly showed Anne Smith laying at the bottom of the stairs with a towel covering her body. Smith said he had no other conversations around the time of the incident and he had erased the photo.
However, the detective was able to see the media sent on the phone belonging to Smith’s daughter, and noted several videos rather than one single image as Smith had claimed. The videos showed timestamps from roughly 1:45 a.m. that day.
Smith told police there had never been any violence between himself and his late wife, and he denied having ever struck or physically harmed her.
During an interview at the police department, Smith reportedly gave a statement which was inconsistent with what he previously told investigators. He also “changed versions of several factors of the event,” according to the affidavit.
“Rodney S. also had no plausible explanation for not being honest with (a detective) and could not provide specific details about the timeline of the event,” the affidavit states. “Rodney S. kept blaming Anne S.’s alcohol addiction and suicidal ideations for the likely cause of her death.”
An autopsy was performed and it determined that Anne Smith died from a subdural hematoma, which can occur when a blood vessel near the surface of the brain bursts. Subdural hematomas are usually caused by severe trauma to a person’s head.
The autopsy also revealed “numerous other notable injuries [on Smith’s body] that were documented.”
Smith was advised of his Miranda Rights and initially continued to deny any violence on the night in question. Finally, however, Smith admitted to a history of domestic violence. Smith then admitted that there “was more to the story than previously discussed,” according to the affidavit.
Smith said that he had gone to check on his wife and tried to get her to go to bed the night of Nov. 29. She followed him out of the room, then slipped and fell down the stairs. But instead of being knocked unconscious from the fall, she got up and was yelling at Smith.
“She was wearing only her underwear and tried to leave the house,” the affidavit states. “Rodney S. got between her and the door and would not allow her to leave.”
Smith told detectives that his wife “came up behind him to attack him,” and that’s when he used his right elbow to hit her in the head.
“Anne S. immediately fell back and hit the back of her head on the floor. She then stopped talking and moving,” the affidavit states. “At one point he thought she mumbled something to him.”
Anne Smith did not “talk or fight or significantly move” after falling to the ground, according to Smith’s account as reflected in the affidavit. “The next morning he found her obviously deceased and called 911,” the document states.
The affidavit states that, “The injuries caused by Anne S.’s death noted from the autopsy were consistent with the assault described. The scene was processed and several search warrants [were] completed.”
The affidavit states that, “With the evidence, statements, confession and other information gathered, Detective Jones arrested Rodney Smith for the death of his wife, Anne Smith.”
Smith plead guilty to one count of manslaughter with a sentence enhancement of Habitual Criminal.