May 2, 2023 Press Release

Robert Smith entered a plea today to Capital Murder for the intentional murder of Jane Pounds, Walter Rainey and Sarah Yeager that occurred at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on June 16, 2022.  Because the defendant intentionally murdered two or more persons the charge was Capital Murder and the only sentencing options were either Life Without Parole or the Death Penalty.  This type of senseless murder of three innocent people is certainly a case our office would typically try in front of a jury and seek the death penalty, however, that was not the wish of the three families in this case.  After much discussion, thought and prayer the families were unanimous that they would prefer a plea of Guilty to Capital Murder and a Life Without Parole Sentence.  Pursuant to this plea, there will be no appeal and the defendant will die in prison.  The loss of Jane Pounds, Walter Rainey and Sarah Yeager is incalculable to their families, friends, community and of course their church family.  We want to thank the Vestavia Police Department, and the other law enforcement jurisdictions who assisted, for their hard work and dedication to this investigation.