Graybeal - Man pleads guilty to brutal murder of his ex-wife

From the Kingsport [TN] Times-News--

Bristol man pleads guilty to brutal murder of his ex-wife
Saturday, April 01, 2006


BLOUNTVILLE - A Bristol, Tenn., man who bludgeoned and stabbed his
ex-wife to death in front of their 8-year-old daughter pleaded guilty
to the murder and accepted a 50-year prison term.

Michael K. Smith, 34, was charged with first-degree murder in the
death of Holly Graybeal on July 19, 2004.

Assistant District Attorney General Barry Staubus said the plea
prevents the couple's child from having to recount for a jury the
details of her mother's death.

In detailing the crime, Staubus told Judge Phyllis Miller that the
state had evidence to show Smith went to the home of Graybeal's
parents, where his ex-wife was living after the couple divorced, with
a golf club and a large knife. In the car, Staubus said, Smith had a
rope and cinder blocks.

"He took off his boots and walked to the house in his sock feet. He
had a golf club and a knife with him," Staubus said.

Graybeal was beaten in the head with the golf club and stabbed 19

"The cause of death was a stab wound to the heart," Staubus said.

Staubus said a witness would have testified at trial that just days
prior to Graybeal's brutal murder, Smith had said he'd like to see how
well she could swim with cinder blocks.

Staubus said that during the attack, the couple's daughter called 911
and told a dispatcher that her father was killing her mother. Smith
got on the phone and tried to convince the dispatcher it was just an
argument, but officers were dispatched to the house anyway.

When officers arrived, they found Graybeal dead on the porch and Smith
with stab wounds as well. He told officers that he acted in
self-defense and that Graybeal had stabbed him.

Investigators later learned that Smith had stabbed himself by putting
the knife to his stomach and running into the refrigerator to push it
into him.

The knife and golf club were found in a wooded area below the house,
Staubus said. Detectives eventually matched the knife to a set at
Smith's home and found out Smith had taken the golf club from a
friend's house after stating he wanted to kill his ex-wife.

Smith also pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and one count of
identity theft for stealing checks from his mother and passing them at
area stores.

Those sentences were rolled into the 50-year sentence. Smith must
serve 100 percent of his sentence in accordance with the plea

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