Courtroom confession: Spain pleads guilty to murder
By Ken Childers
“I shot Teresa Smith,” Anthony Roy Spain confessed to Okfuskee County District Judge Lawrence Parish before breaking down into tears.
Having previously waived his right to a jury trial, Spain was in Parish’s courtroom on Tuesday, Jan. 23 for a bench trial. Spain, 35, stood charged with murder in the first degree – deliberate attempt for the January 2019 shooting death of Smith, his mother-in-law.
The proceedings opened up with Spain’s defense team telling the court that their client wished to enter a “blind” plea, which is a guilty plea without a set sentence. In blind plea situations, the judge sentences the defendant as he/she sees fit, within the boundaries of the law. The defense also requested that a pre-sentence investigation be conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections prior to sentencing, which Parish granted with no objection.
“Do you understand the charges against you?” Parish asked Spain. “Yes,” the defendant answered. “Are you here with the understanding that you could be sentenced to life without parole or life in prison?” Parish inquired. Again, Spain answered with a simple “yes.”
Spain had previously entered a plea of not guilty to the charges levied against him, but when asked by Parish if he was in court to change that plea to guilty, Spain said, “yes.”
“How do you plead to the charge of murder in the first degree – deliberate attempt?” Parish asked. “Guilty,” was Spain’s answer.
“What did you do that makes you guilty?” the judge asked. Spain tearfully replied that he had shot Smith. Sobbing and visibly shaken, Spain stepped away from the judge’s bench, dried his eyes with a tissue and took a seat at the defense table.
Parish denied a request from Spain’s attorneys that their client be allowed to stay seated for the rest of the proceedings, rather than remain standing in front of the bench. “I’d rather finish it up here, as soon he composes himself,” Parish said. “Take all the time you need.”
Parish set March 19 as the sentencing date and noted that Spain maintains the right to file a motion to modify the sentence within one year. Per Oklahoma law, any application for sentence modification that is filed and ruled upon beyond 12 months of the initial sentence being imposed must be approved by the prosecutor, and the prosecutor must provide written notice to any victims.
Spain was originally scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 12, 2019 but at the last minute, he waived the right to a jury trial, resulting in the bench trial before Parish.
On Jan. 5, 2019 authorities were dispatched to Spain’s residence in rural Okfuskee County, where Smith’s body was discovered. According to an affidavit, Smith had been shot twice, once in the torso and once in the head.
Spain’s wife, Sabrina – who has since filed for divorce – told investigators she had tried to break up an altercation between Spain and Smith and had also witnessed the shooting. According to the affidavit, Sabrina said she observed Spain assaulting Smith on the couch in the living room and separated the two, but they continued to argue. She also said Spain pushed Smith against the living room wall and put his hand on her throat.
During an interview with Agent Derek White of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Spain said he returned home from drinking at a friend’s house, then he and Smith got into an argument in which she pushed and scratched him. Spain said he defended himself by pushing her onto the couch. Spain also alleged Smith threatened him by saying she would call family members to “take care” of him.
According to White’s report, Spain said he went up to his bedroom closet and retrieved his 12-gauge shotgun, which he claimed was to defend himself. Spain said he fired a shot into the ceiling of the living room to get Smith to leave. He also told the agent he saw something shiny in Smith’s hand before firing the shotgun at her.
Spain was arrested on murder charges on Jan. 7, 2019 and made his initial court appearance three days later. He was represented in court by Attorneys Jack B. Justin and Elton Jenkins of Norman. The state was represented by Mike Loeffler, Assistant District Attorney for Okfuskee and Creek County.