TULARE COUNTY – After a swift and decisive courtroom verdict, Kenneth Charles Smith is now facing life behind bars after being found guilty by a jury for the murder of his parents, bringing closure to a case that unfolded over the course of eight years.
Smith’s, 65, guilty verdict was secured by prosecutors on Nov. 14 in a courtroom at the South County Justice Center. According to the report from the Tulare County District Attorney’s office, the jury reached its decision after just one hour and seven minutes of deliberation.
The incident dates back to Oct. 4, 2015, when deputies with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office received a call for a welfare check at a residence in Porterville.
Upon arrival, the deputies conducted a search of a semi-trailer located on the property, uncovering the lifeless bodies of an 84-year-old male and an 83-year-old female, concealed beneath a tarp and blankets. Evidence of blood was observed on the back of the male victim’s head, and both victims exhibited signs of strangulation. It came to light that Smith was a resident of the trailer.
In a subsequent development, a few hours later, dispatch received a call from a friend of the defendant residing in the Lake Isabella area, who reported that Smith had arrived at his home and confessed to the killings. Law enforcement promptly responded to this call, taking Smith into custody. Further investigation revealed that Smith had also confessed to the murders to multiple members of his own family.
The legal proceedings in this case spanned eight years, marked by numerous competency trials, a multitude of motions filed and changes in defense counsel.
During the trial, Smith was found guilty on two counts of premeditated first-degree murder, and the verdict carried special allegations related to multiple murders committed. Smith is now facing a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, with the sentencing hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.
The prosecution of this case was spearheaded by Assistant District Attorney Erica Gonzalez and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Noell Niayesh.