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Mar 25, 2013 8:37 AM by AP/CS

Testimony ends in park double killing

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Testimony has ended in the trial of an East Feliciana Parish man accused of killing an ex-girlfriend and her 3-year-old son, and trying to kill two other children of hers - including his own daughter.

Dominique Dantoni Smith is accused of killing Jessica Johnson Palmer and Juan Palmer Jr., and of slitting the throats of Robbyn Palmer and his daughter, Paige Johnson. Paige was 4 years old and Robbyn was 6 months old when they were left for dead in 2008. He's charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two of attempted first-degree murder.

Testimony ended Sunday, and state District Judge Tony Marabella set closing arguments, jury instructions and deliberations for Monday, The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/ZN6ZLQ).

Smith faces a sentence of life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Prosecutors withdrew their notice of intent to seek the death penalty earlier in March after Paige's family expressed concern about her welfare.

Smith testified that he met with Palmer and her children at a park Zachary on May 4, 2008, but was not in the park where the bodies were found.

Trendall Lashel Matthews, 25, of Jackson in East Feliciana Parish, pleaded guilty to the all four charges in 2011 in exchange for two life sentences. She had faced a possible death sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Darwin Miller noted that Smith was offered the same deal and said, "You were treated the same, weren't you?"

"I was given the option to plead guilty to a crime I didn't commit," Smith answered.

Matthews, Smith's girlfriend at the time of the killings, testified earlier that Smith cut hit Jessica Palmer with a baseball bat and cut Jessica Palmer, Juan Jr. and Paige.

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