A convicted murderer who represented himself at trial this year on multiple charges involving assaults against Kern County prison staff has been sentenced to 150 years to life in prison.

A jury last month found 36-year-old Lawrence Christopher Smith guilty of battery upon and resisting officers, among other charges. He was sentenced Wednesday for the assaults at Tehachapi's California Correctional Institution. 

"The jury convicted Mr. Smith for conduct that shows he remains unrepentant and dangerous, even though he has been in prison for years," prosecutor Gordon Isen said. "Hopefully, this result will delay parole consideration until a time when he is no longer a threat to society."

Smith initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to one of the charges, but withdrew the plea shortly before the close of evidence in the guilt phase portion of the trial. The jury also found true that he had previously been convicted of murder and attempted murder. 

Among the allegations proven at trial were multiple instances of Smith projecting bodily fluids onto prison staff — an act known as "gassing."

According to court documents, Smith refused to hand over his razor after showering the morning of Feb. 4, 2015. Officers then walked him through a metal detector before walking him toward a holding cell.

On the way, Smith turned on the officers and assaulted one of them, the documents said. The officers used force to subdue him.

A prison disciplinary hearing was held as a result of the incident, and the officer Smith assaulted was called as a witness. As the officer walked past Smith, Smith spat on him, striking him in the face and chest.

Smith then resisted as two officers removed him from the disciplinary hearing, the documents said.

On April 16, 2015, a random search of Smith's mattress turned up a plastic inmate-manufactured dagger, according to the documents. The same search revealed two strips of blue plastic material, apparently identical to that used to make the dagger, among his papers.

Five months later, officers were escorting Smith within the prison when he pulled away from them and loudly brought up phlegm and pursed his lips as if he was about to spit on them, the documents said. The officers ordered him to the ground. Smith refused, and was physically subdued and pepper sprayed.

Brought outside to decontaminate from the spray, Smith was strip searched in the prison yard and another plastic dagger was found in his boxer shorts, the documents said. 

Among other incidents proven at trial, the documents said, Smith sucker-punched an officer, breaking the officer's nose; flung urine and feces from a container upon correctional officers; spit on an officer's face and uniform; assaulted a transportation officer and threatened to assault transportation officers when uncuffed in the future; and stabbed another inmate with a plastic dagger.

Smith's murder conviction stems from a Nov. 26, 2004, drive-by shooting in San Diego.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.