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‘Difficult Patient’ Accused of Gunning Down Two Dentists Now Faces Capital Murder Indictment

Steven Alexander Smith, via Smith County Jail

Steven Alexander Smith, via Smith County Jail

A 40-year-old Texas man faces a capital murder indictment for allegedly slaying two dentists in a fit of rage earlier this year.

A grand jury in Smith County indicted Steven Alexander Smith on one count of felony murder of multiple persons for shooting and killing Dr. Jack E. Burroughs, Jr. and Dr. Blake G. Sinclair inside of their dental practice, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

The fatal shootings occurred on March 16 at Affordable Dentures & Implants on State Highway 31 East. The grand jury returned a true bill formally indicting Smith on May 5. If convicted on the charge of capital murder, Smith will either face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Smith was at the clinic to have work done on his dentures when things took a shocking turn. One of the nurses reportedly told investigators that Smith “was not happy with how they were doing the procedure” and repeatedly tried to tell the staff what to do. The nurse also reportedly noted that Smith had “always been a difficult patient.”

After hearing complaints from the nursing staff, Dr. Burroughs intervened and told Smith that he was “no longer going to be a patient of theirs” because of repeated problematic interactions with the staff, the affidavit reportedly states. An angry Smith then attempted to take back his dentures and pushed Dr. Burroughs to the floor, the nurse reportedly told police.

Smith reportedly exited the practice and went to his truck for a brief moment. He allegedly turned around and started “walking very fast” back toward the office. Drs. Burroughs and Sinclair tried to lock the door, but Smith allegedly forced his was inside, again knocking Burroughs to the floor. Dr. Sinclair attempted to grab the 230-pound Smith with a “bear hug” from behind and a struggle reportedly ensued. After a short while, Smith allegedly drew a handgun and shot both dentists multiple times.

“Numerous people” were inside of the dental offices at the time of the shooting, per the affidavit. Witnesses said Smith fired a total of five shots at the two doctors.

Per the report, after shooting both men, Smith pointed the gun at a nurse and demanded she open the door that would give Smith access to the patient rooms. The nurse reportedly refused to unlock the door while pleading for her life. Smith then reportedly left the business without firing any additional shots.

Both Drs. Burroughs and Sinclair were transported to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

A witness at the scene reportedly provided police with Smith’s license plate number and a description of his vehicle. Deputies with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office took him into custody at his residence later that day. Investigators reportedly discovered two handguns inside of Smith’s home that matched the caliber used to gun down the doctors, per Tyler ABC affiliate KLTV.

The suspect is scheduled to appear before District Court Judge Jack Skeen Jr. for his arraignment at 8:30 a.m. on June 10. A jury trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15.

Smith is currently being held in the Smith County Jail on $3 million bond, jail records show. Those records show Smith is also charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. That charge is reportedly connected to the suspect’s alleged pointing of a gun at a nurse.

[image via Smith County Jail]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.