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Three Teens Sentenced In Slaying Of Quincy Pair Judge Hands Down Sentences Of 50, 24 And 10 Years For Trio

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 24, 1997

Family members of an elderly couple killed in their farmhouse near Quincy, Wash., faced the teenagers who participated in the killings and asked a judge on Tuesday to impose lengthy sentences.

Grant County Superior Court Judge Evan Sperline sentenced Adam Betancourt to 50 years and Marcus “David” Wawers to 24 years for their parts in the slayings of Homer and Vada Smithson. Betancourt and Wawers both are 16.

A third defendant, 16-year-old Melanie Hinkle, was sentenced to 10 years.

Betancourt, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, was accused of shooting Vada Smithson, 88, and Homer Smithson, 89, as they were lying in bed last May 21.

Wawers, whose home was less than a half mile from the Smithsons’ farmhouse, had pleaded guilty to two charges of second-degree murder by complicity.

Hinkle pleaded guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit residential burglary.

More than two dozen members of the Smithson family were in court for the sentencing hearing. Both Betancourt and Wawers said they are sorry for the killings, but family members didn’t accept their apologies and urged Sperline to impose lengthy sentences.

“When I see you ask this family for mercy, I ask: How much mercy did my grandparents get?” said Dick Smithson, a grandson of the couple. “Lord, forgive me, but I will never forgive you. You all had a chance to stop it, and you didn’t. You tore apart an entire family. Anything less than the maximum penalty would not be justice at all.”

Another grandson, Gary Smithson, reminded Wawers that the Smithsons often had fed him at their table and had taken food to Wawers’ family during hard times.

“You had every opportunity to seek help, to make sure this didn’t happen, and you didn’t do it,” Gary Smithson said.

A fourth defendant, 16-year-old Donald Lambert, was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated first-degree murder in the slayings.

Prosecutors described Lambert as leader of the group.

The Smithsons apparently were shot as part of a scheme to steal guns from their rural home and then shoot up the home of an unidentified police officer, court documents indicate.

Police arrested the four teens at Wawers’ home a few hours after the shootings.

The teens apparently were motivated in part by a grudge Wawers held against Homer Smithson over some past employment, prosecutors said.

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