Murder conviction upheld by state court

Anthony Stanley is led to the Colbert County Courthouse for his sentencing for capital murder.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday upheld the capital murder conviction of a Tuscumbia man accused of killing a man in 2005 by stabbing him with steak knives and beating him with a baseball bat.

Anthony Lee Stanley, 45, was convicted of capital murder in April 2007 for killing Henry Earl Smith, 52, McLain Apartments on North Hook Street in Tuscumbia, during a robbery.

The body was discovered June 20 in the apartment where Stanley and his wife, Shelly, lived.

Two months after he was convicted of capital murder, Stanley was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Jurors recommended Stanley be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Colbert County Circuit Judge Hal Hughston, however, overruled the jury’s recommended and sentenced Stanley to death.

Hughston, in making his ruling, said he changed the sentence in part because of the brutality involved in the killing.

Authorities said Smith was beaten with a baseball bat and then stabbed with steak knives more than 30 times. Testimony during the trial indicated that eight of the stab wounds punctured Smith’s lungs.

Also, according to the state medical examiner, the autopsy revealed Smith’s face was crushed and his jawbones was broken.

Shelly Stanley, who pleaded to murder in 2006 and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, testified against her husband and said he was the one who beat and stabbed Smith.

She said when the blade of one knife became bent, her husband grabbed another knife and kept stabbing Smith. The second knife was left sticking in Smith’s back.

“There’s no question this was a gruesome case, a terribly brutal case,” Colbert County District Attorney Bryce Graham Jr. said. “Certainly justice was done in this case. There was no other penalty that would have fit that particular crime than the death penalty. I applaud the court of appeals for upholding it.”

A date has not been set for Stanley to be put to death.

During the trial, testimony indicated the Stanleys were desperate for drugs and they developed a plan to lure Smith to their apartment to rob him.

Shelly Stanley said they had been high on crack cocaine for four days before the attack.

She testified she lured Smith to the apartment June 18, 2005, under the pretense of paying him for the powerful painkiller OxyContin tablets she had purchased from him the previous day.

Police said the Stanleys left after they killed Smith.

The apartment was padlocked from the outside. When officers got into the apartment they found Smith’s body on the floor wrapped in a comforter.

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.

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