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Virginia lawyer invokes ‘Will Smith defense’ at murder trial

Virginia lawyer invokes Will Smith defense at murder trial


A Virginia defense lawyer tried a “Will Smith defense” at his client’s murder trial on Tuesday — but the jury didn’t buy it.

Attorney Dirk Padgett told jurors during closing arguments that William Reno Ray, who was on trial on two counts of first-degree murder, simply “snapped” — just like the actor did when he smacked Chris Rock.

“Things you wouldn’t ordinarily do you do — like Will Smith,” Padgett told jurors, The Roanoke Times reported.

“I bet he wishes he could take back,” he said of Smith. “But he can’t. You can’t unbreak a stick.

Smith “snapped” during the Oscars on Sunday and smacked the comedian after taking issue with his crack about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia and shaved her head last year due to the disorder.

Rock quipped that Pinkett Smith could star in a sequel to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” which starred a bald-headed Demi Moore.

William Reno Ray was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder.
Roanoke City Jail
Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday.
The slap has sent waves across the internet and has apparently made its way into courtrooms as well.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In court Tuesday, Padgett maintained his 25-year-old client similarly lost his cool when he stabbed Eric Surface, 44, more than 20 times and killed him, then drowned 42-year-old April Barnicoat in her own bathtub.

The lawyer even sprinkled in some Teddy Roosevelt for the jurors, reciting the former president and Rough Rider’s description of being in the heat of battle.

“When the wolf rises in the heart, it is hardest to calm down,” he said.

The defense strategy didn’t work — the jury convicted Ray on both counts in two hours, The Roanoke Times reported.

He is due to be sentenced at a date yet to be determined.



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