A clean-energy entrepreneur was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for the attempted murder of his wife during a drunken argument in 2013 inside their home on the Columbia River in Vancouver.
Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis found John Garrett Smith, 46, guilty Dec. 3 of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault following three days of testimony. Smith, who goes by his middle name of Garrett, opted for a bench trial instead of being tried in front of a jury.
Smith’s latest attorney, Colleen Hartl of Seattle’s Law Office of John Henry Browne, said Smith is appealing the conviction.
The case first appeared to be a severe domestic assault in which Smith repeatedly punched his wife, Sheryl Smith, in the face and strangled her on June 2, 2013. However, the discovery of an audio recording on Garrett Smith’s cellphone of the attack prompted Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Nugent to charge him with attempted murder. In the recording, Smith says, “I will kill you.”
He stopped the assault when Sheryl Smith fell unconscious and appeared to have stopped breathing.
Her daughter, Skylar Williams, then 18, came home after the attack and found her mother with facial injuries. The injuries were so severe that Sheryl Smith was “unrecognizable,” Nugent said.
The deputy prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Garrett Smith to the maximum punishment allowed by law, which is nearly 14 years in prison.
“He leaves her for dead,” Nugent said. “There is a point when he stops strangling her because she is unconscious. … He flees, and he doesn’t call for help … He knows his 18-year-old daughter is on her way home, and he leaves her mother so that Skylar is the one who finds her …She became an adult far earlier than we would ever hope for that to happen, and that is unforgivable.”
Williams later found Garrett Smith’s phone and gave it to Vancouver police officers who were at the hospital investigating the assault, court records say. Williams informed police that the phone contained a voice mail message, which may have recorded part of the assault.
Nugent said “the most glaring point is the blame the defendant attributes to everyone except to himself.”
She said he blamed Sheryl Smith, her brother, law enforcement, the court system, post traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug use, prescription pill use, bipolar disorder, hyperglycemia and high-functioning autism.
Addressing the judge, Smith maintained that he never intended to kill his wife.
“It was not a literal statement,” Smith said.
“I know before God and in my heart then, now and ever I never intended to kill my wife,” he said. “I loved her. I loved our family.”
He filed for divorce in September, according to court records.
Lewis said that as a part of his sentence, Garrett Smith is barred from contacting his wife for the rest of their lives. The judge also sentenced Garrett Smith to three years of community custody and restitution in an amount to be determined.