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Third guilty verdict declared in murder-for-hire case involving Austin police officer

A former Austin police officer had hired a man to kill a woman who was pregnant with his baby.

BASTROP, Texas — A guilty verdict was declared last week for Freddie Lee Smith, a man involved in a 2015 murder-for-hire plot at the request of a former Austin police officer who wanted a woman dead because she was pregnant with his baby.

According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office, a jury returned a capital murder guilty verdict after six hours of deliberation on June 30. On July 13, the Hays Free Press reported that Smith has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Officials said former officer VonTrey Clark hired Smith to kill a woman named Samantha Dean for $5,000 because she did not wish to seek an abortion for their child. Clark and Dean had reportedly had a sporadic relationship for more than six years.

Credit: KVUE
From left to right: Freddie Smith, VonTrey Clark and Kevin Watson.

Clark then reportedly had another friend, Kevin Watson, broker the deal to kill both her and the unborn baby. Dean, a former Kyle Police Department victims services counselor, was around seven months pregnant at the time of the murder and was planning to name their daughter Madeline.

Officials said the three men hatched an elaborate scheme, but their burner phone records, geolocation data and cellular forensic exams revealed their plans. 

When search warrants and court orders were unsealed in July 2015, Clark fled to Indonesia. He was captured and extradited back to Texas.

Evidence reviewed at trial showed that Clark lured Dean to Bastrop under false pretenses to a vacant shopping center, which is where Smith shot her in the head. After Smith shot her twice, Clark then fired another shot into her body.

Officials added that Watson also participated in the planning of the crime and gave Smith a ride to and from the scene of the murder.

Samantha Dean

Clark pleaded guilty to capital murder in December 2019 and was sentenced to life without parole. Watson pleaded guilty to murder and is scheduled to be sentenced this month.

Paxton's office became involved in the case at the request of Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goetz. Assistant Attorneys General Jane Starnes and Tina Richardson have also assisted in the case, along with Legal Assistant Michael Roberts, Legal Assistant Angela Lopez, Lt. Missy Wolfe and Victim Assistance Coordinator Carolyn McGinley.  

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