Appeals Court Reduces Texas Death Row Inmate’s Sentence

An appeals court Wednesday reduced the sentence of a Texas death row inmate convicted of killing an elderly woman who hired the man and other Hurricane Katrina evacuees to do odd jobs.

Roosevelt Smith, Jr. (Texas Prison photo)

DALLAS (November 7, 2012)—The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday reduced the death sentence of Roosevelt Smith, Jr., 50, to life without parole for the murder OF a woman who helped him after he relocated to the state in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Smith’s attorneys argued that he's mentally impaired and ineligible for execution under Supreme Court guidelines.

A state-appointed psychologist confirmed the claim and on Wednesday the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed.

Smith, who was from Napoleonville, La., was sentenced to die for beating and strangling Betty Blair, 77, in October 2005 at her home in Pasadena, just east of Houston.

She had been helping evacuees at a church and hired Smith and others to do odd jobs.

He had several earlier burglary convictions and served prison stints in Louisiana.

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