8-year-old Josef Smith was found dead when paramedics responded to a call from his home. Medical examiners concluded that the boy died of “acute and chronic” abuse. The boy’s parents, Joseph and Sonya Smith, were members of Remnant Fellowship Church, and followed discipline methods that included beating children with twelve-inch glue sticks and locking children in closets. The defense argued that the injuries found on the body did not cause the boy’s death, and that Joseph and Sonya’s discipline methods never rose to the level of abuse. Joseph and Sonya were found guilty of felony murder, reckless conduct, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, and cruelty to children and were sentenced to life plus thirty years in prison. The couple’s church supported them against the charges and appealed the case, but their appeals were denied. The Smith family homeschooled.
Date: October 8, 2003
Location: Mableton, Georgia
|Child’s Death Renews Scrutiny of Remnant Fellowship Church
|The Last Hours of Josef’s Life (from “The Smiths Are Innocent”)
|Georgia v. Smith (Wikipedia)