Katy man sentenced to 50 years in prison for strangling wife — (Houston Chronicle)

SSRI Ed note: Man treated for depression for years with 17 different medications chokes wife to death during a quarrel.

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Houston Chronicle

September 13, 1994


A Katy man who made a false show of concern about his missing wife, then admitted he strangled her, was sentenced to 50 years in prison Monday.  John Fenton Smith, 29, pleaded guilty in May to the murder of Rebecca Sue Smith, 26.

Smith has admitted to choking his wife to death Nov. 10 of last year after a quarrel over their pending divorce. Her body has not been found.

Before leading authorities to an area in west Harris County where he said he dumped the body, Smith gave tearful television interviews about his wife’s disappearance and pleaded for the public’s help in finding her.

Prosecutor Dan Rizzo said that the lack of a corpse did not prevent the state from seeking charges against Smith because there was enough evidence to establish that a murder had occurred.

Smith testified in state District Judge Patricia Lykos’ court before sentencing and told how finding divorce papers in his wife’s purse led him to strangle her. He said he choked her for several minutes before putting her in the trunk of his car.

Smith said he still is not sure where the body is, though he would like to have it found “for the peace of mind for everybody, especially Becky’s family.”

He said he loved his wife, and apologized for the pain he had inflicted on her family, his own and the couple’s daughter, 5.

Before Lykos sentenced him, Smith said, “I deserve to go to prison. I’m beyond sorry.”

Smith’s attorney, R. Christopher Goldsmith, said Smith had been treated for depression for years prior to the divorce proceedings and had been on 17 different medications in that time.

“I think that probably he was having a difficult time functioning normally, and the divorce was probably the final straw,” the lawyer said

Record Number:  HSC09131225786