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Smith murder trial set for Feb. 6

A Lincoln County man accused of murdering a friend will stand trial in February.

Jessie Scott Smith’s final pre-trial hearing will be held Feb. 5 and he’ll begin trial the next day for first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 42-year-old John Bennett, who was found dead at his home on Smith Lake Road April 21. Lincoln County Circuit Judge David Strong set the date at a hearing Monday after Smith’s attorney, Tangi Carter, told the court she had everything she needed to try the case except the final autopsy report from the state crime lab.

“Those don’t get done very quickly in this state, as you may have noticed,” Strong said.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing on Sept. 24.

Strong asked Carter and Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams to agree on a January deadline for pre-trial motions. Adams requested a date that gives his office at least 10 days to review the motions before Strong rules on them.

Both attorneys agreed all other discovery in the case has been completed and the trial will be ready once both sides have reviewed the crime lab’s final report on Bennett’s death.

Bennett, a former cook for the Brookhaven Country Club, was found dead by his mother the morning of April 21, when she went to check on him before leaving for a funeral. The deceased lived two houses down from his parents, and he had spent the previous day with them before heading back home around 6 p.m. on April 20.

Bennett’s parents told police two friends had come over to his house around 8 p.m. that night, the last time they saw him alive. Brookhaven police arrived next morning and arrested Smith, whom Bennett’s father said was one of the two friends, Sunday.