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Donald Hartung Sentenced to Life for Murdering His Mother and Half Brothers


Convicted murderer Donald Hartung was sentenced to life on Friday for killing mother Voncile Smith, 77, and his half brothers John William Smith, 49, and Richard Thomas Smith, 47. Prosecutors said he slew his relatives on July 28, 2015 because his mom cut him out of the will.

Hartung showed little, if any, sign of emotion during his trial in Escambia County, Florida. He was deadpan even when hearing the jurors found him guilty. Nonetheless, the defendant was far more animated before the penalty phase that began Thursday. The defendant threw his attorneys under the bus, alleging that they botched his case, and failed to address certain facts. He said he had wanted to testify in his defense.

Hartung relitigated his case at length, and asserted weaknesses in the state’s argument.

“As I said, I could go on and on and on, but I request a mistrial for lack of proper representation,” he said. Hartung said he loved his jury, and said they paid attention, but added that they “were duped.”

“You were duped,” he told Judge Thomas V. Dannheisser.

The court disagreed. Dannheisser said he saw Hartung’s lawyers do a great job, and they “litigated this case extremely well to the jury.”

His attorneys voiced concern about their client, with lawyer Sharon K. Wilson suggesting Hartung was acting irrationally. Again, Dannheisser disagreed. The judge pointed out that there was a competency hearing recently, and the defendant was “obviously intelligent” and articulate. Dannheisser said he didn’t see any inappropriate behavior or the like from Hartung throughout the trial.

[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]

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