Adams Co. DA: Homicide 'brutal'

John Joyce
  • A day of drinking and smoking crack ends in death for an Adams County man.
  • Man drives murder victim's truck to friend's house, then to mother's to confess to killing.
  • DA: Walter Mark Smith Jr., 44, of the Hanover area, is charged in "brutal beating death" of Mitchell Jones.

One Adams County man is dead, and another is charged with his murder after a full day of drinking and smoking crack, according to a news release issued by the Adams County District Attorney's Office.

Walter Mark Smith Jr., 44, of 26-B Chapel Road in Conewago Township, Adams County, is charged with one count each of criminal homicide and aggravated assault in what Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett called the "brutal beating death" of Mitchell Robert Jones.

Jones' age was not listed on the release.

Walter Mark Smith Jr.

According to the charging documents, the two men lived at the same residence in Conewago Township. At 10:23 p.m. Saturday, Conewago Township police officers were called to the home by a person stating they had discovered Jones' dead body inside.

Fight: The first officers to arrive encountered signs of a struggle as soon as they walked in the door, according to the  charging documents. A ceramic water pitcher lay in pieces on the floor of the front room. A dark liquid surrounded the shards.

In an upstairs bedroom, officers found Jones lying on the floor dead, his head hidden by a black plastic bag. A bloody handprint "sliding down the bedroom wall," accompanied a large amount of blood throughout the bedroom, the documents stated.

Witnesses: Randy and Dawn Becker, of New Oxford, stated that Smith, intoxicated at the time, had driven to their house about 9 p.m. Saturday. Smith used to live with the Beckers and told them he had "f— up" and they would not see him for a while, according to charging documents.

The Beckers told police Smith said that he and Jones had been partying together when Jones hit him with a chair. He said the two of them fought, and he passed out. When he awoke, Jones "was stiff," according to the documents.

Smith left the Beckers' house to go to his mother's home in Abbottstown. He had told the couple he planned to drink a six pack and tell his mother what happened, and then he would go to the police.

The Beckers did not wait. They drove to the house Smith and Jones shared and found Jones inside. It was Randy Becker who called the police.

Arrested: At 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Smith drove back to his residence in Jones' truck. He showed signs of intoxication and was arrested, the documents said.

While being detained, Smith made several comments noted by police.

Smith allegedly said, "At least he fought like a man," and, "Mitch tried to stab me" with a screwdriver.

He also is quoted by police as saying, "Life got wrong real quick."

William Sherman lives with Smith's mother. He told police Smith had, in fact, come to tell his mother what he had done before returning to the scene of the crime. Sherman had followed Smith back to the house. Sherman told police Smith had made statements to him and his mother confessing to the killing and said the he and Jones had been smoking crack together.

Physical evidence: Police officers secured a search warrant, and at 7:30 Sunday morning, they entered the house and recovered Jones' body. An examination showed blunt force trauma to the head, swelling around the eyes and bruises on both arms, consistent with finger marks, the charging documents said.

Smith, now in custody, had photos taken of his body as well, documenting  evidence of injuries he allegedly suffered during the scuffle with Jones. Smith's injuries included a swollen right hand and scratches on his throat and on the top of his head, the documents said.

Smith is currently being held in the Adams County Adult Correctional Complex without bail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 15.

— Reach John Joyce atjjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at @JohnJoyceYD.