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Sat, July 20

Jury finds Lappe <BR>guilty of murder

The victim's mother, Mary Louise Smith, said she didn't expect the verdict to come so quickly, even though there was no doubt in her mind that the prosecutor, Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Ethan Wolfinger, proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. She said that justice has been served.

"I just feel relieved and thankful to the prosecutor and detectives involved in this case," she said, adding that her friends offered the support she needed to deal with the loss of her son. "I couldn't have survived without my friends."

Police arrested Lappe in October 2001 and charged him with the shooting death of the 47-year-old Smith.

According to court records, police found Smith's body in his Prescott home in the early morning hours of Sept. 7, 2001, after receiving an anonymous phone call requesting a welfare check on him. Police found him dead from a .20-gauge shotgun wound to his head.

Lappe reportedly told a number of people about the shooting. Police recovered the defendant's bloodstained clothes, as well as the shotgun.

In late June, during Lappe's first trial, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger decleared a mistrial but declined to specify a reason for the public record.

At that time, Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane and the defendant's lawyer, Kenneth Ray, said they could not comment on the reason for the mistrial because the judge imposed a gag order.

According to court records, Kiger ordered that no one, including court staff, could discuss the case in public. In addition, before he excused the first jury, he advised them that the court's admonition not to discuss the case would apply until after the new trial concluded.

Kiger set Lappe's sentencing hearing for 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 25.


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