Gavin Smith Teen Killer Gets Life For 4 Murders

Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith was a sixteen year old teen killer from West Virginia who would execute four members of his family. According to court documents Gavin Smith would fatally shoot four family members in the head. Now Gavin Smith has learned that he received the maximum penalty for a juvenile which is to spend the rest of his life in prison. Gavin Smith will be eligible for parole one day many decades in the future however it is unlikely he will ever step out of prison again.

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An Elkview teenager who shot and killed four members of his family in December 2020 was sentenced on Tuesday to the maximum time in prison for the crimes.

Gavin Smith, 18, was found guilty during a trial in December of first-degree murder for the deaths of his stepfather, Daniel Dale Long, 37, mother, Risa Mae Saunders, 39, and brother, Jameson Long, 3. He was found guilty of second-degree murder for the shooting death of his other brother, Gage Ripley, 12.

The family was found dead in their Elkview home on Dec. 13, 2020. Investigators determined the shootings took place four days prior to their bodies being found by a concerned family member who hadn’t heard from them.

All of the victims were shot in the head at close range, according to testimony during the trial.

Smith’s attorney, John Sullivan, asked Judge Kenneth Ballard to sentence Smith to the Anthony Center for youthful offenders.

“There’s more to him than the offense he committed,” Sullivan said, calling the teenager a “thoughtful” and “intelligent” young man.

“He’s been locked up since he was 16 and basically would be growing up in the prison system,” Sullivan said.

Smith spoke briefly when it was his turn to address the court and said he wanted to apologize for his actions.

“I do regret this and if I could I would take it back because it is one of my deepest regrets,” Smith told the judge. “I am begging you, that if you do grant this alternative sentence, you won’t have an issue.”

Smith paused and spoke quietly to his attorneys before saying, “There’s days that I would do anything to take it back.”

Daniel Long’s parents, who adopted him when he was 14-months-old, told the court that they wanted the harshest punishment allowable under the law for Smith.

They both spoke how losing their only son and grandchildren has torn their lives apart.

“I never expected my life to be in such turmoil at this stage in my life,” Long’s father said.

Both parents also spoke particularly at how heinous Smith’s actions were that took his 3-year-old brother’s life, who they said loved Gavin “unconditionally.”

“I cannot comprehend how he could have taken his brother’s life,” Long’s mother said. “Just because he was 16 at the time, doesn’t make a difference. He still took lives.”

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney JC MacCallum asked Ballard to sentence Smith to the maximum on each count and to run the sentences consecutively.

MacCallum said Smith has continuously blamed others for his actions, including his girlfriend at the time, Rebecca Walker, pressuring him to kill his family so they could be together while on a video call with him during the shootings.

“This was a heinous crime, you murdered your entire family in cold blood,” Ballard said. “Your actions can only be described as an act of pure evil.”

Ballard sentenced Smith to three life sentences, with mercy, for the first-degree murder convictions, 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, and 10 years for use or presentment of a firearm. Ballard said the only reason he was granting mercy was because state law mandates that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison with no mercy.

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