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Prince William teenager sentenced to life without parole in double killing

A teenager who killed a mother and son during a botched burglary in their Dale City home was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Xavier Pinckney, now 18, fatally shot James M. Smith, 19, a college student who had just returned home for a holiday break, and Smith’s mother, Jean, 39, in December 2008.

Pinckney, then a junior at C.D. Hylton Senior High School, climbed through a window in the Smith’s home the afternoon of Dec. 19, 2008 with plans to steal valuables to sell for cash. He ended up shattering a family that was active and beloved in their community.

"This has had an unspeakable impact on myself and my children,” Rick Smith, Jean Smith’s husband and James Smith’s father said in court.

The couple’s youngest son, Liam, now 10, now goes to dayc are before and after school instead of coming home to his mother. Daughter Sarah, 23, celebrated her college graduation without her mother. And son Connor, now 17, still struggles with the memory of finding his brother's body.

James Smith, a Hylton graduate, studied musical theater at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Jean Smith was an active volunteer at Hylton, where she headed the chorus boosters club and was known as ‘Mama Smith’ to choir members.

The day of the killings, Pinckney crept inside the house thinking nobody was home, prosecutors have said. But James Smith, who had returned home late the night before after a trip with his a cappella group, was asleep on a couch.

Pinckney stole two guns, family heirlooms kept in the master bedroom, and had loaded one before he spotted James Smith. Pinckney later told police in a written confession that he kicked something and woke Smith. He said he shot the college student “out of reaction.”

Jean Smith, who had just arrived home, came inside to find her dying son, prosecutors said. Pinckney told police he fled, but returned to grab a jacket he had left behind. Fearing Jean Smith would recognize him, he shot her in the ear as she tried to call for help.

Pinckney ultimately made off with the guns, a laptop, James Smith’s cell phone and some ammunition. The stolen items were worth less than $1,000.

Pinckney was convicted in September of capital murder but could not be sentenced to death because he was 17 at the time of the slayings. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for juveniles.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  February 19, 2010; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Maria Glod , Pr. William  
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They had guns in the home but it did not save them nor deter a criminal act. Just goes to show if a criminal catches you vulnerable you can be harmed even with a gun in the house.

Posted by: ged0386 | February 19, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. This article should've been titled "Prince William young man sentenced to life without parole in double killing". The murderer is a young man and not a "teen". It's unfortunate that a young man and a woman were murdered. The young man who murdered them got a fit punishment.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | February 19, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Xavier Pinckney threw away three lives on that horrible day. Pinckney took the lives of two innocents and in so doing, threw away his own miserable life as well.

Why? He did it because he is a criminal predator. Any criminal predator needs to be incarcerated. Period, Full stop. End of issue.

The only problem with his incarceration is that he will now prey on other inmates and the correctional officers.

Posted by: | February 21, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Dr Arthur Kellerman (an emergency room physician and trained epidemiologist) conducted a carefully designed epidemilogical study about 12 years ago proving that if you have a gun in your house, you are 3 times as likely to die of a gunshot. Period.

Posted by: wobbleman47 | February 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@Liberty for All:

Stop repeating that same old tired line:

A "teen-ager" is anybody whose age, in years, ends with "teen", i.e. from 13 through 19.

Get off that tired old pedantic crop.

Posted by: wobbleman47 | February 21, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Who the F.... cares what you call them apart from murderers and victims.
I also think he got the right sentence.

Posted by: captgrumpy | February 21, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

why dont you post my comments anymore scum

Posted by: captgrumpy | February 21, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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