The state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Circuit Court judge’s decision to admit evidence in a Myrtle Beach man’s 2008 trial on charges related to the death of his 4-month-old daughter.
Justices released their opinion Monday in the case of Wesley Smith, who was convicted in April 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding and abetting Ebony Smith’s death. The 30-year-old had faced a charge of homicide by child abuse, and during the trial denied hurting his daughter four years earlier.
In their ruling, the Court of Appeals justices wrote that Circuit Court Judge Edward Cottingham “acted within his discretion in admitting evidence of Ebony’s broken femur and did not err in allowing the state to proceed under the aiding and abetting section of the homicide by child abuse statute. Regarding the other issues, Smith’s claim that the trial judge erred in excluding evidence of bias fails because the judge did not exclude the evidence. Smith’s argument that the judge erred in excluding evidence of his borderline intelligence is not preserved for our review.”
At the end of Smith’s trial, Cottingham gave him the maximum sentence allowed by law and also told Smith if he had been found guilty of the original charge, he would have sentenced Smith to life in prison.
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Smith is eligible for release in 2022, according to the state Department of Corrections website.
Ebony Smith’s mother, Charlene Dandridge pleaded guilty to failing to provide medical attention for her daughter and was sentenced to five years in prison for neglect that ended with the child's death.
Ebony died on Valentine's Day in 2004 after she suffered 17 rib fractures and ingested four times the recommended adult dose of cold medication, officials said.
Dandridge's charge stemmed from a leg fracture the child suffered two months before her death. Prosecutors said Dandridge knew Ebony had been abused by Smith but failed to take the baby to the doctor for two weeks after the fracture.