Defendant Facing up to Life in Federal Prison
BRYSON CITY – Robert Benjamin Smith, 24, of Cherokee, NC, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Bryson City on Wednesday, Jan. 19 to second degree murder in connection with his involvement in a Oct. 22, 2010 fatal stabbing incident which occurred on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina made the announcement, along with Aaron T. Ford, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Charlotte Division, and Ben Reed, Chief, Cherokee Indian Police Department.
According to official court documents, on Oct, 22, 2010, after having spent the day together drinking beer and using drugs, the defendant and victim got into a fight which resulted in the victim being stabbed to death.
On Wednesday, Smith entered a guilty plea to one count of second degree murder, a lesser-included offense of first degree murder. The plea was offered pursuant to a plea agreement. Smith had previously been charged in a one count federal bill of indictment filed on Dec. 7, 2010 with one count alleging first degree murder.
He will be sentenced at a later date, and will remain in local federal custody until that time. He is currently facing a maximum statutory penalty of any number of months, up to life, in prison.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Cherokee Indian Police Department, and the prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast of the Asheville Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
– Source: DOJ