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Fugitive convicted of 1983 cold-case Richmond homicide

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Sherill Lynn Smothers, a 56-year-old resident of Granite Bay, was found guilty of a cold-case murder in Richmond from 1983 Thursday morning after skipping bail for a previous court date on Tuesday, according to Contra Costa County prosecutors.

Smothers was indicted for the murder of 25-year-old Marsha Denise Carter in December 2016. The charging document also includes an enhancement and a special allegation for the use of a knife as the murder weapon, although the jury did not find that allegation to be true.

The verdict was scheduled to be read on Tuesday, but Smothers failed to appear in court. He was arrested by a Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office inspector that night at his home, according to prosecutors.

Police said Carter was living with her four children at the time of her death. On the morning of Dec. 7, 1983, they found a pool of blood on her bed in a home on Santa Clara Street in Richmond.

Ten days later, her body was found in the trunk of her car in West Sacramento. At that time, investigators were unable to identify a suspect, but they reopened the case in 2008 and Smothers was arrested in 2016.

Smothers is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Sept. 28.

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