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Delmer Smith found guilty of the first degree murder of Dr. James Briles' wife Kathleen Briles

2:47 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida -- The man accused of killing a woman with a sewing machine during a home invasion, has been convicted by a jury of first degree murder.

The defense called no witnesses before resting their case Wednesday. During closing arguments Thursday morning, the defense argued that the state failed to do its job of proving Delmer Smith is guilty and that evidence only links him to be in possession of stolen property.

After all, there has been no confession. And no witnesses can place Smith at the Terra Ceia home where Kathleen Briles was beaten to death with an antique sewing machine in 2009.

However, in key testimony Wednesday, prosecutors were able to connect Smith to the scene and the crime in ways that weren't direct -- but they were compelling.

A detective testified that calls and text messages places from Smith's phone around the time of the murder used a cell phone tower close to the scene.

And an acquaintance of Smith's said he went with Smith to a pawn shop some time after the murder to sell some jewelry Smith had gotten ahold of.

Smith said he'd bought the jewelry from someone. Prosecutors say it was stolen -- taken from the Briles' home sometime between when Kathleen Briles was killed and when her husband, Dr. James Briles, came home and found her dead on their living room floor.

Family members and friends also had the heart-wrenching task of telling the jury that items from the pawn shop and items police say were in Smith's possession were treasured items that had belonged to Kathleen Briles.

Smith is already serving a life sentence for a crime in Sarasota County. Now that he's been convicted of Briles' murder, he could face the death penalty.

A separate, special hearing after the trail would determine whether Smith will be executed. Defense attorneys would make a thorough argument for why Smith should be allowed to live; prosecutors will argue the opposite.

The same jury that took part in the trial would then decide whether to recommend death. If the jury does authorize the death penalty, the judge can then declare that to be Smith's fate, or choose a lesser sentence.

10 News reporter Grayson Kamm contributed to this report.

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