Selma teen pleads guilty to murder

Published 1:18 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jeffery Kendall Struggs, 18, stood before Circuit Court Judge Thomas ap R. Jones Monday and pleaded guilty to a December 2007 murder.

Jones sentenced the Selma teen to 29 years in prison with the possibility of parole.

Struggs pleaded guilty to the shooting death of 15-year-old Dewone Smiley, a ninth-grade student at Selma High School, on Dec. 22, 2007.

Email newsletter signup

“This 15-year-old victim never had a chance to live his life before it was snuffed out by a gunslinger,” District Attorney Michael Jackson said. “We are going to keep shipping these gunslingers off to prison.”

Officers responded to the Vaughan Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room that Saturday night in December 2007 in reference to a gunshot victim. Witnesses at the hospital identified Struggs as the suspect according to police reports.

“Witnesses stated that the victim (Dewone Smiley) and suspect (Jeffery, aka “Nug”) got into an altercation,” Det. Sandra Washburn said in a report. “Jeffery pulled a handgun and shot the victim one in the chest area. After the shot the suspect ran out of the apartment.”

Smiley told family members that he had been hit and they took him to the emergency room. Officers were notified that Smiley died in surgery a few hours after the shooting.

Detectives interviewed a juvenile, whose name was protected in court records. The teenage male was with Struggs the night of the murder and told Sgt. y Neely what occurred.

“I was in [the house] when they was fighting,” he told Neely in an interview. “So they go in to it again. I didn’t know [Struggs] had a gun on him. So the next thing you know, everybody was trying to break it up. So I walked off. Next thing I know, I heard gunshots. So I ran.”

The witness told Neely that Struggs shot the gun, but he also said he did not see the gun.

Neely asked him how he could know that Struggs shot the gun and the witness said because Struggs told him that he shot Smiley.

The witness said he was “just a passenger” that night and had no knowledge of the gun prior to the shooting. Neely asked why he didn’t come forward with information and the witnessed said he didn’t because he “was scared.”

Struggs was arrested on Dec. 26, 2007. When he turned himself in, Struggs refused to give police a statement. He was placed in the Dallas County Jail under a $300,000 bond.

“Anyone convicted of murder, not capital murder, is eligible for parole after 15 years in prison,” Jackson said. “It isn’t likely they will be paroled, but they have the chance.”