GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The murder convictions of a Greene County woman sentenced to life in prison for killing a pregnant woman in 2016 have been affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals at Knoxville.
On Wednesday, February 24, a ruling was filed affirming the judgments of a criminal court in 2019 against Vonda Star Smith.
Smith, of Afton, Tennessee, was found guilty of the first-degree murder of 21-year-old Jessie Nicole Morrison. She was also convicted for the second-degree murder of Morrison’s unborn child.
Smith was found guilty on May 25, 2018 and sentenced to life in prison on June 25, 2018. She was given an additional sentence of 25 years for the second-degree murder.
Morrison’s body was found in Afton on the side of road on August 12, 2016. Blunt force trauma was ruled as the cause of her death.
The court of appeals ruling states during Smith’s appeal, her defense claimed the evidence in the trial was insufficient to support her convictions.
Smith’s defense also claimed the Greene County Criminal Court violated her right to due process by failing to provide information regarding a “ping” from Morrison’s cell phone.
The ruling states Smith contended that the State’s failure to provide a witness for a statement also violated her right to due process.
According to the filed ruling, Smith claimed in her appeal that the court had “improperly commented on the evidence during a defense witness’s testimony” and made “cumulative errors” that require the reversal of her convictions.
Smith’s defense claimed the court had made a mistake by imposing the 25-year sentence for the second-degree murder of Morrison’s child.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgements of the trial, denying Smith’s appeal.
You can read the full ruling below: