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Security guard shooting case bound over

By Ed Brock

A witness told police he saw a security guard charged with murder running alongside the stolen car driven by the teen-ager the guard is accused of killing just before the fatal shot was fired.

That was part of the testimony at a preliminary hearing Thursday for 29-year-old Kathryn Smith, charged with murder in the June 16 death of 16-year-old Courtney Wright of College Park, who was driving Smith's domestic partner's stolen car.

Following the hearing the case against Smith was bound over to the grand jury for indictment consideration.

In his testimony Clayton County Police Department Detective Stefan Schindler said that on the day of the shooting Smith was on her way to work at Wayfield Foods on Riverdale Road outside Riverdale when she stepped off the bus and recognized the car in a parking lot across the street.

"She confronted the driver of the car, at which time he attempted to drive away and she discharged her firearm," Schindler said.

Wright was later identified as the driver of the car.

Schindler said that Smith told him that she ran in front of the car in an attempt to stop it.

"She advised that the vehicle was coming at her and as she jumped out of the way to the right she fired," Schindler said. "I asked her what was going through her mind at the time and she advised that she did not want him to get away with the car."

An employee of the Advanced Auto Parts store where the shooting occurred told police that he saw Smith running alongside the car as it moved away, Schindler said. Also, the angle of the shot that killed Wright, a through-and-through head shot that entered behind the left ear, exited near the right ear and lodged in the car's passenger seat, was consistent with that testimony.

Schindler also said that an off-duty Atlanta police officer who was across the street said he thought he saw the car coming at Smith. None of the witnesses saw the shot fired.

Smith's attorney Keith Wood reiterated Smith's claim that she acted in self-defense.

"All she did was use that gun in a defensive manner to defend herself against a criminal in a stolen car who was trying to run her over," Wood said. "If she was a Clayton County police officer she wouldn't be in jail."

"Even a criminal in a stolen car doesn't deserve to be shot down in cold blood," said Assistant District Attorney Richard Brown in his closing arguments.

Smith's domestic partner, Shanda Burch-Smith, attended the hearing. Previously she defended Smith, saying she is a sweet-natured woman who loves children.

Wright's mother, Bridgette Moore, and other family members came to the hearing also, wearing shirts with Wright's picture on the front.

"I don't want her to get no bond," Moore said. "I want her to lay there and realize she did a vengeful act of killing."

Moore denied that her son had stolen the car, saying he was given the keys to it to do a favor for his older brother. She said the family hasn't been able to eat or sleep since Wright's death.

"We know he's in a better place, it's just the loneliness he left behind," Moore said.

A charge of carrying a weapon without a permit against Smith was not bound over after Schindler testified that police later learned that she did have a permit.

Smith is scheduled to appear today for a bond hearing.