Covering Louisiana

May 22, 2013 12:12 PM by AP(PHOTO COURTESY: MGN ONLINE)

Suspect in St. John deputy ambush pleads guilty

EDGARD, La. (AP) - One of the suspects charged in the deadly ambush last August that claimed the lives of two St. John Parish sheriff's deputies and the wounding of two others has pleaded guilty.

The Times-Picayune reports Derrick Smith, the younger brother of suspected gunman Brian Smith and son of Terry Smith, who is also facing accessory charges, is the third suspect to enter a guilty plea in the case.

Chanel Skains, Terry Smith's wife, pleaded guilty to accessory charges in November 2012. And Britney Keith, Brian Smith's girlfriend, pleaded guilty late last month. The charges against Teniecha Bright, a neighbor of the Smith family who was initially charged as a principal to attempted first-degree murder, were dropped in October.

Derrick Smith was originally charged with principal to attempted first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to amended charges that include accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Derrick Smith was sentenced one to five years for the accessory charge and one to 12 years for the firearm charge, the minutes from the court proceeding show. The sentences will be concurrent.

Charges are still pending against three suspects in the case: Terry Smith, who is charged as principal to attempted first-degree murder; and Brian Smith and Kyle Joekel, who are each charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Deputies Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielsen. Brian Smith and Joekel face possible death sentences if convicted; the trial is set to begin in mid-2014.

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