Robert Findlay Smith

Accused mass-murder Robert Findlay Smith has been offered a plea deal, prosecutors said on 4 April 2023. In exchange for pleading guilty to three counts of murder the 71-year old man will be spared the death penalty if he is convicted after a trial.

Smith is alleged to have shot and killed three people attending an evening potluck service at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Ala.  On 16 June 2022, approximately 25 people attended a “Boomer’s Potluck” at the suburban Birmingham parish. Smith joined the dinner shortly after 5:00 pm, but sat alone at a table. Walter “Bart” Rainey (84) approached Smith and asked him to join his table. Smith declined.  At 6:22 pm Smith drew a handgun and shot Mr. Rainey, Sarah Yeager (75) and Jane Pounds (84) . Mr. Rainey and Mrs. Yeager were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, while Mrs. Pound died in hospital.

Jim Musgrove, a member of the church, attacked the gunmen and disarmed him after he hit him with a chair. Mr. Musgrove then wrestled Smith to the ground and held him until police arrived.  Smith was not a member of the congregation, but some present recall seeing him at the Good Friday service this year. 

Smith appeared before the Jefferson County Court on Tuesday. Prosecutors told Judge Kandice Pickett they had spoken to the families of the victims and a “settlement” has been extended to Smith. The defendant is expected to return to court in May for further proceedings. If convicted of capital murder at trial, Smith faces a penalty of from ten years to life in prison, with the option for the jury to sentence him to death.