Aspiring rapper convicted in bloody Dallas drug house robbery that left 3 dead. Justin Pharez Smith once wanted to be a famous rapper. Now he's a convicted killer who could be sentenced to death. The day before Smith systematically gunned down four people in a Dallas drug house robbery, he released "Fear," a song in which he rhymed "body bags" and "toe tags."
The former University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff student once delivered an anti-drug, anti-violence spoken-word performance in Washington, D.C. But in the early hours of Aug. 2, 2014, Smith was driven to kill three people and seriously injure two others because he needed money, special prosecutors said Friday during closing arguments in his capital murder trial. Jurors deliberated for about four hours before convicting the 24-year-old.
Smith fatally shot Tyteanna Brown, 21; Kimberly Montgomery, 36; and Demarcus Walton, 37, at a drug house in the 5100 block of Wynell Street. He could be sentenced to death when the punishment phase of his trial begins Monday. The rampage that may lead Smith to death row was miles removed from his youth in Pine Bluff, where he grew up with his grandparents and regularly attended church. Smith was involved in a college mentorship program at UAPB and was an active member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. But then he decided to be a different person, special prosecutors said.
When Smith was fleeing, he used his car to hit another man, who was coming back to the house from an errand. The surviving man and woman identified Smith for homicide detectives. After the slayings, text messages show Smith sent a note to the friend he had talked to about the gun. He simply said, "Four." He was arrested the next day at his college mentor's house in Grand Prairie. He has remained in the Dallas County Jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
Smith befriended Walton about six weeks before the slayings and regularly visited the house on Wynell, until Walton sent him back to Arkansas with drugs to sell. "He thought he'd come to Dallas on the dope game. The problem was he sucked. He was a terrible drug dealer," said prosecutor Kobby Warren. After trying to sell drugs, he was still broke. And he knew there was always cash at Walton's house. The people who lived there, including Walton, took him in and saw him as a friend, prosecutors said. "He's figured out what he really wants to be, and it ain't a schoolboy," prosecutor Edwin King said.
The weekend of the shooting, Smith asked his college mentor to buy him a bus ticket to Dallas and loan him $150, promising to pay him back as soon as he got to town.
Meanwhile, he was texting another friend about getting a gun and asking how many shots he would need to kill someone. Walton, Brown and Montgomery were in the living room when Smith opened fire on them a little after 6 a.m. Brown's body was found with her leg draped over Walton's. His hand was on her thigh. The couple appeared to have been sitting or sleeping on the couch. Brown had a gash on her forehead from blunt force trauma. She had been shot five times, once in the head. Walton was shot at least six times, including a shot through his head and one in his chest.
Montgomery was sitting in a chair in the corner of the living room when she was shot through the chest. Her body was found slumped on the floor with the armchair on top of her. She had been shot six times, including once through her head. A third woman was sleeping in another room, where Smith shot her because he thought she witnessed the murders. "Please don't. Please don't. I have kids," Warren said the woman begged. "And he shoots her in the face." He fled the house believing she was dead. She survived the attack.