Woman pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter
Tammy Lee Smathers, 50, of Briar Patch Lane in Warrenville, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Circuit Court in Aiken and received a 15-year sentence from Judge James Barber.
Smathers pled guilty to the charge on Friday morning to avoid trial on a murder charge that was scheduled to begin next week, according to Assistant Solicitor David Miller.
At the plea, Smathers admitted shooting her husband, Don Smathers, on Jan. 26, 2011. She initially claimed a family friend shot her husband during an argument, but investigators quickly determined she had been the only person in the house when Don Smathers was shot.
“This case was solved because of the hard work of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office,” Miller said. “Without the efforts of Sheriff (Michael) Hunt’s office, from the deputies that initially responded to the scene, to Lead Investigator Greg Savell and the forensics unit that gathered the evidence the night of the crime, this plea would not have happened. Their efforts not only forced Tammy Smathers to accept responsibility for her actions, they prevented an innocent man from facing charges for a crime he did not commit.”
Deputies with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office were called out to the scene of the incident on Briar Patch Lane where they discovered Don Smathers with a gunshot wound to the head. Don Smathers was transported to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta where doctors managed to get him stabilized.
Don Smathers was in a coma for an extended period of time; however, his condition improved and he was able to speak with detectives about the incident, Capt. Troy Elwell, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said after Tammy Smathers was initially arrested.
Deputies found the victim lying on the floor in a pool of blood and talked with Tammy Smathers. She said she had been out to dinner with a friend of the family, and met her husband at the residence after dinner. She further claimed that this friend had been the one to shoot her husband.
The Sheriff’s Office said at the time of Tammy Smathers’ arrest that the family friend was not a suspect in the shooting.
Don Smathers died of complications from the injury on Jan. 20, 2012.
Tammy Smathers’ attempted murder charges were then upgraded to murder.
Under S.C. law, Tammy Smathers will serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before she can be released, meaning she will not be eligible to be released until 2025.