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Jury takes 15 minutes to find man guilty

District Attorney Keith Higgins announces that on March 1 a Jeff Davis County jury found James Larvelle Smith, 30, of Hazlehurst, guilty of one count of burglary in the second degree.
The facts of the case show that on May 15, 2023, Jeffrey Ellis, an employee of Timmy Taylor, found the defendant, James Smith, in the barn at the property sitting on a Polaris ATV. When confronted, Smith indicated he was there to take the ATV. Ellis called for Taylor, and when Taylor came to the barn, the defendant again indicated he was there to take the ATV as he had purchased it from the previous owner and it belonged to him. Taylor had purchased the ATV from his daughter, so he knew this story could not be true.
Upon checking the security cameras on the property, Smith was seen moving throughout the property, looking into vehicles and into the windows of the house, and trying to open the door. The footage also showed Smith with a duffle bag and entering the barn via the back doors so as not to be seen from the house. Smith was arrested by Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office deputies.
At trial, Smith, who represented himself, testified in his own defense and again told a fabricated story where he claimed to be the owner of the property, but when pressed by Assistant District Attorney Hunter Smith, who prosecuted the case for the State, Smith could provide no details or documentation of such. During his testimony, Smith admitted he went into the barn and had intended to leave the property on the ATV. The jury deliberated for under 15 minutes before convicting Smith.
Smith was subsequently sentenced to five years to serve in the Georgia Department of Corrections by Brunswick Circuit Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane.

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