- Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) - A Baxter County man has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the 2012 New Year’s Eve slaying of his live-in girlfriend.

David Craig Smith of Salesville had been set to go to trial this week on a capital murder charge for the bludgeoning death of Lisa Kay Smith. The Baxter Bulletin reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1avPmal ) that David Smith pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Thursday and avoided a trial.

According to police, Lisa Smith died from head and neck trauma after she was beaten with a claw hammer and knife. An autopsy found she had been struck 10 times in the head. Authorities said that although David Smith and Lisa Smith shared the same last name, they weren’t married.

When Circuit Judge Gordon Webb asked Smith if he acknowledged his culpability in his girlfriend’s death.

“I do, sir,” Smith replied.

Smith declined to comment when the judge asked if he had anything he’d like to say before sentencing.

“The family is OK with the plea,” Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade said after Thursday’s hearing. “We talked with the family at some length about the plea, and it’s life in prison … Life means life in Arkansas.”

According to police, a man called 911 on Dec. 31, 2012, and said David Smith was at his house and that he said he’d killed his girlfriend. On a recording of the call, David Smith could be heard in the background saying: “I already killed her! 911 will put me in jail, she was already … dead.”

Deputies who answered the call at about 10:30 p.m. found Lisa Smith lying on the floor of the couple’s Salesville residence with trauma to her head and neck. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Springfield, Mo., early New Year’s Day.

___

Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com