Mother relives pain as 2nd man in son's murder is sentenced
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Louise Smithwick, who is nearing 80, stood before an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge Monday and read to him from a paper she prepared five years ago.
That was when it was still fresh in her mind that her eldest son had been killed making a pizza delivery in Wilkinsburg.
She has spent the 19th day of every month for the past five years in seclusion, lighting a candle and crying as she remembered Boston Smithwick's death on April 19, 2007.
"All this and so much more is lost to me and my family forever," Ms. Smithwick said. "All this for pizza and the change in his pocket."
The case against Lance Dempster has been pending for five years but has been delayed time and again. He was a 17-year-old boy when he was first arrested. Dempster is now 23 and has been in the Allegheny County Jail for more than five years.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced by Judge David R. Cashman to 10 to 25 years in prison as part of a negotiated plea deal.
According to prosecutors, Dempster and another man, William Mitchell, called Vocelli Pizza in Swissvale that night and ordered a pizza. They gave an address for an abandoned home on Campbell Street.
Mr. Smithwick, who had served in the military and as a probation officer in Florida, wasn't supposed to make the delivery but offered to take it from a woman who was pregnant so she didn't have to go to the area.
When he arrived, the suspects pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him and demanded money.
Mr. Smithwick refused, and a shot was fired when he lunged for the gun. He was struck in the femoral artery and died. He was 48.
Ms. Smithwick asked the judge to consider her son's military service to the country.
"Now, I am asking his country to serve him. Serve justice," she said. "Do not let them go unpunished."
Lisa DeBlanc-Smith, Mr. Smithwick's sister, told the judge that she has watched her mother suffer for the past five years.
"I worry more about my mom than myself," she said. "I'm just ready for this to be over for my mom's sake. I just want my family to be able to move forward."
A teacher in Woodland Hills, Ms. DeBlanc-Smith said she had Dempster in study hall in middle school and high school.
"For me, it's like a double whammy," she said.
When it was his turn to speak, Dempster turned to the Smithwick family and apologized.
"Nothing I can do can change it," he said. "But I do apologize."
Ms. DeBlanc-Smith, who said the Dempster family has been extremely kind to her own, felt the apology was sincere.
"I would have liked to see a little more time," she said. "But my mom's OK with it, so I'm OK with it."
Mr. Mitchell, who was found guilty of second-degree murder in April, will be sentenced Oct. 29.
"He's a loving God. He's a forgiving God. I do want his will to prevail," she said. Adding later, "I feel like, if [Dempster] turns his life around, and gives God the glory, then my son's death won't have been in vain."
First Published August 21, 2012 12:00 am