Kenneth Smith Ohio Death Row
Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death by the State of Ohio for a double murder. According to court documents the victim lent Kenneth Smith money which he had not repaid. Kenneth Smith and his brother Randy Smith would go over to the victims home and murder the husband and wife, 58-year-old Lewis Ray and 54-year-old Ruth Ray, before robbing the home and fleeing. Kenneth Smith was arrested convicted and sentenced to death
Kenneth Smith 2021 Information
Gender Male Race White
Admission Date 02/16/1996
Institution Corrections Medical Center
Kenneth Smith More News
On May 12, 1995, sometime around 11:00 p.m., defendant-appellant, Kenneth W. Smith (“defendant”), and his brother, Randy Smith (“Randy”), brutally murdered Lewis Ray and Ruth Ray in their Hamilton, Ohio home. Lewis was severely beaten, his skull was fractured, and his throat was slit, severing his windpipe and carotid arteries. Ruth died from manual strangulation. Their home was ransacked, and money and jewelry were taken. The following morning, David L. Lester, Ruth’s son, discovered the bodies of his mother and stepfather and called the police.
In the Rays’ home, police observed signs of a struggle, blood on the kitchen floor, and bloody footprints throughout the house. Police found a damaged white ceramic coffee pot covered with blood stains in the trash can and a green army camouflage hat on the floor. A knife had recently been removed from a butcher block set. Police found Lewis lying on the kitchen floor and Ruth lying in the doorway between the hall and bedroom. The Rays’ bedroom had been ransacked, and the contents of dressers were strewn about the floor.
Earlier in the evening of May 12, 1995, defendant and Randy had gone to the Crystal Lounge, a.k.a. Crystal Bar, with a friend, Russell C. Baker. At approximately 10:20 p.m., defendant borrowed Baker’s car allegedly to pick up his wife, Brenda Smith, and some friends. By midnight, defendant had not returned Russell’s car. At about that time, Brenda and Lillian Canafax, Randy’s live-in girlfriend, arrived at the Crystal Lounge also looking for the Smith brothers. About forty-five minutes later, Russell and the two women decided to go to Chasteens Bar. Defendant eventually showed up at Chasteens Bar at approximately 1:30 a.m. When Russell questioned defendant about the car, defendant claimed that he was late because he had been in a fight at a gas station. Defendant showed Russell a bump on his head. At the time, Russell also noticed that defendant had changed his clothes.
At approximately 2:00 a.m., defendant left Chasteens Bar in his Monte Carlo automobile with Brenda, Randy, Lillian, and Russell. Defendant drove to his house, handed his car keys to Randy, and instructed Randy to take a stuffed pillowcase from a nearby blue automobile and put it into the trunk of the Monte Carlo. Russell accused the Smith brothers of being “out thieving with my car.” Defendant replied, “Russell, I wouldn’t do that.” The group then drove to Buckeye Street, where Russell’s brother, James, was staying. Russell soon went home and to bed.
In the early hours of May 13, 1995, defendant admitted to his friend, James Baker, that he had killed Lewis Ray and that his brother, Randy, had strangled Ruth Ray. James testified that on May 12, 1995, he was staying at his mother’s apartment, when defendant and Randy arrived at approximately 1:30 a.m. in Russell’s automobile. The Smiths had been to the apartment earlier in the evening before going to the Crystal Lounge. Defendant told James that he had been in a fight, and James noticed that defendant had cleaned up and changed clothes. Defendant was wearing a sweater and boots instead of tennis shoes. He was not wearing a hat. James further testified that defendant left the apartment again at 1:35 a.m. to go to Chasteens Bar.
When defendant returned to James’s mother’s apartment at approximately 2:45 a.m., he began to tell James about the murders. James testified that defendant told him that he had taken a hammer and “struck Louie Ray between his eye[s],” and that during this time, defendant had winked at his brother, Randy, who followed Ruth into a bedroom and strangled her. Defendant also told James that they took gold and jewelry in a pillowcase from the Rays’ home.
James testified that when he asked defendant why he killed the Rays, defendant replied that they had killed them to prevent the Rays from identifying them. James testified that defendant “was talking how he sliced Lewis Ray’s throat from ear to ear and just laughing about it.” Defendant also told James that after he killed Lewis, he “kicked Ruth’s brain in” to make sure she was dead. James testified that defendant brought a pillowcase stuffed with jewelry inside the apartment, but James asked him to take it back to the car.
Later that morning, James was driving around with defendant and Brenda. They stopped to buy cigarettes and marijuana. Defendant mentioned to James that he was concerned because he lost his green army camouflage hat in the struggle with Lewis. Eventually they drove to Russell’s home. There, out of defendant’s presence, James told Russell what defendant had admitted. Defendant then suggested to James that he hide the remaining jewelry. This prompted Russell to contact the police. Police later recovered the jewelry in the attic of a garage.
In addition to the testimony of James Baker, Lillian Canafax testified that she was outside Chasteens Bar arguing with Randy when he showed her a gun. She testified that she saw the same gun in her bedroom the following morning. Several days later, after she found the gun and money under the bed, she authorized police to search the apartment. Lillian also turned over to police three money orders she had purchased for Randy the day after these crimes occurred.
Another witness testified that around 11:15 or 11:30 p.m., he saw Randy standing outside a pizza parlor about a block from the Rays’ residence. The witness testified that Randy had a hammer in his hand as he ducked behind the building. Russell testified that a hammer was missing from his car after he had loaned his car to defendant.
That afternoon, the police detained defendant for questioning. At the time, police observed cuts and scratches on defendant’s face, and a long cut and bruises near his right collarbone. Police also searched Brenda’s purse and discovered a cellophane bag containing rings, two $100 bills, and a quantity of nonsequentially numbered food stamps. Police knew that Lewis sold similar jewelry and suspected that he may have dealt in food stamps as currency.
At the police station, defendant waived his Miranda rights and admitted that he and Randy had killed Lewis and Ruth. Defendant said that while at the Crystal Bar, he and Randy had talked about going to rob the Rays, and decided that they would have to kill the Rays because they did not want the Rays to be able to identify them. Defendant told police that after arriving at the Rays’ house, he and Lewis began to argue about money that defendant supposedly owed Lewis. Defendant further admitted that he picked up an object from the kitchen counter and struck Lewis, eventually overpowering him. Defendant claimed that Lewis said, “I’m going to kill you, Kenny,” so defendant grabbed a knife and cut Lewis’s throat. He then rolled Lewis on his side and took his wallet. Defendant said he walked to the bedroom and saw Ruth’s body on the floor. Randy had choked her to death. The two men ransacked the bedroom and left in Russell’s automobile.
Police apprehended Randy Smith. They found $344 in bloodstained currency on him. Randy initially denied any knowledge of the murders. Police allowed Randy to speak with his brother, who said, “They got us brother, everybody is telling on us, tell the truth, that’s what I did.” Randy then explained to the police his involvement in the crimes.
Later, after again being advised of his Miranda rights, defendant gave the police a written confession. In his statement, defendant said that while playing pool at the Crystal Lounge, he talked with Randy about robbing Lewis. He borrowed Russell’s car and drove to a pool hall about half a block from the Ray home. Defendant stated that he and his brother walked to the Rays’ house. Lewis invited the Smiths into his home. Defendant and Lewis began to argue about $2,500 that defendant owed Lewis. The men began to fight in the kitchen and defendant grabbed something from the counter and struck Lewis’s head. They continued to wrestle on the floor. Defendant knew he was going to have to kill Lewis to keep him from telling anyone what happened. Defendant then grabbed a knife and “sliced Louie across the throat.”
In his written confession, defendant further admitted that he took Lewis’s wallet, then walked into the bedroom. Ruth was lying on the floor in the doorway, and defendant had to step over her body. Defendant said he asked Randy what had happened, and Randy said he had choked Ruth. Defendant further admitted that he then ransacked the bedroom, taking rings, watches, and necklaces, and placed the items in a plastic bag and left.
According to his signed confession, defendant went home after the murders to shower and change clothes. He and Randy divided the money found in Lewis’s wallet. Defendant’s share was around $625. Defendant then put his bloody clothes, the knife, and Lewis’s wallet into a green trash bag that Randy later threw into the river. The two men then drove to Chasteens Bar.
In his confession, defendant explained that after leaving Chasteens Bar, he drove to the apartment where James Baker was staying and began to go through the jewelry that the defendant and Randy had taken from the Rays’ house. Defendant picked out some items he wanted to keep. The following morning he placed some rings into a plastic bag and gave them to Brenda, who put them into her purse. Defendant put the remainder of the jewelry into the trunk of his Monte Carlo. He and James then put the jewelry into the attic of James’s grandmother’s garage. During police questioning, defendant also admitted that the wristwatch he was wearing had belonged to Lewis.
At trial, defendant testified that he and Randy went to the Rays, intending only to steal saws and drills from the yard. They parked the car away from the house, but as they walked into the yard, Lewis opened the gate and saw them. Lewis invited them into the house, and the men began to argue about money that defendant allegedly owed Lewis. Defendant testified that within ten minutes, “everything got real violent.” Lewis “jumped up,” told defendant he “was going to shoot” him, and hit defendant “upside the head with something.” Defendant testified that he grabbed something from near the stove and struck Lewis. Defendant testified that Lewis tried to push him down the basement steps. Defendant then grabbed a knife and cut Lewis as he approached. Defendant bent down, turned Lewis on his side, and grabbed his wallet. Defendant further testified that Randy told him that he had choked Ruth. The brothers then ransacked the bedroom, taking jewelry.
Defendant denied that he intended to kill the Rays. Defendant claimed that Lewis was his best friend, and he “wouldn’t cold blooded kill him for nothing.” Defendant testified that he was very upset about the Rays because they were “like family” to him. He admitted that he told James about killing Lewis, but testified that he wasn’t laughing or joking, but instead, he was “in tears.”
Kenneth Smith was charged in two counts with the aggravated felony-murder of Lewis Ray and Ruth Ray in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B). Each murder charge contained three death specifications: the offense was committed to escape detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for other offenses, R.C. 2929.04(A)(3); the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of two or more persons, R.C. 2929.04(A)(5); and the offense was committed during the course of an aggravated robbery, R.C. 2929.04(A)(7). He was also charged with two counts of aggravated robbery that included the allegation of a prior felony conviction for attempted burglary. The jury convicted defendant as charged and recommended the death penalty on the aggravated murder counts. The trial court sentenced defendant to death.
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