Jeffrey Douglas Brittain, 26, of Maiden, will serve at least 18years in prison following his conviction for second-degreemurder during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
The Honorable, William A. Long, Superior Court Judge from Iredell County, imposed an active term of 18 to 22 years for Brittain after he pleaded guilty to the September 29, 2017, shooting death of 19-year-old Justin Tyler Smith.
Brittain, who had no prior felony convictions, will serve his sentence in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
“The court can’t even begin to offer an appropriate consolation. It’s not lost on me how difficult this is,” Judge Long said to Smith’s family. “Hopefully, this will give some finality and closure.”
The issues that led to Smith’s death revolved around a relationship he had with the defendant’s girlfriend. On the day of the fatal shooting, Brittain and Smith had been exchanging messages that included threats.
Later that evening, Brittain had his roommate (a co-defendant) drive him to the residence where Smith was located. The defendant shot through a window, striking Smith in the head and killing him. The defendant’s roommate then picked him up, and they left the scene.
Cassandra Champion, wife of Smith’s cousin, spoke on behalf of the victim’s family.
“It’s not fair that he was taken,” Champion said. “We all love him and miss him so much. We will never forget him.”
Assistant District Attorney Melanie Earles noted the great expression of love the family had for the victim.
“They loved him very much; he was a huge part of their world,” she told the court.
Defense Attorney Lisa Dubs said that an apology for the victim’s death seemed inadequate but acknowledged that her client always accepted responsibility for what happened to Smith, and he was sorry for what he had done to his family and the family of the victim.
The co-defendant’s case is still pending. He is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Kerry Penley led the investigation for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Melanie Earles prosecuted the case for the State.
“We thank our District Attorney’s Office for its work in this case and value our continued partnership,” Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown said. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of Justin Smith.”
CONTACT: Nathan Key