Image Source: YouTube user Netflix
Discrepancies in the criminal justice system are on full display in Netflix’s true-crime documentary “State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith,” which examines the factors surrounding Brittany Smith’s 2020 trial for the murder of Todd Smith.
Brittany garnered national attention when she was charged with fatally shooting Todd in January 2018 but claimed that she did so in self-defense. After relentlessly fighting for a Stand Your Ground hearing, which would grant her immunity if she could prove that she believed she was in imminent danger when she pulled the trigger, she lost. If convicted, Brittany would’ve faced up to 25 years in prison for her crime, but that wasn’t the end of her story.
Here are the true details behind “State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith.”
Who Is Brittany Smith?
In the beginning of the new year in 2018, Brittany lived in a four-bedroom house in Stevenson, AL. At the time, she was recovering from substance use disorder and was working toward getting custody of her four children again, as reported by The New Yorker. In January 2018, she got a puppy named Athena from an acquaintance, Todd. In every way, her life was looking upward, but a series of harrowing events would change the course of her life as she knew it.
The Death of Todd Smith
One day after getting her puppy from Todd, he called her asking to be picked up from the local park. Brittany had her reservations, but since the snowy weather was intense at the time, she went with her brother, Chris McCallie, to get him. McCallie dropped off the two at Brittany’s house not long after, and according to Brittany, she and Todd made small conversation about their mutual struggles with addiction, which soon took a turn for the worse. According to Brittany, when discussing her road to recovery, she told Todd to “get his priorities together,” as she had been able to secure a new job and have the potential of getting her children back, per The New Yorker. She says he took offense to this and assumed Brittany was being condescending, which sent him into a rage. According to Brittany, he cursed at her, head-butted her, and chased her into her bedroom, where he strangled her unconscious and sexually assaulted her repeatedly.
After the alleged assault, Brittany says, Todd threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about what happened. She says he then requested cigarettes, and a terrified Brittany called her mother, Ramona, in hopes of getting a ride to the local convenience store. Ramona sent McCallie over to get the two instead, and they went to get the cigarettes. At the store, Brittany was completely disheveled: her hair was tangled, some of her fingernails were gone, and she had visible markings on her body. She left a note with the store’s worker naming Todd as the person responsible for attacking her but pleaded with them not to call the police in fear of potential repercussions.
When McCallie dropped the two back off again, Brittany told him to talk to the store worker she left the note with. He did and immediately returned to her house with a gun, ordering Todd to leave. When Todd refused, they got into a scuffle, and Todd put McCallie in a headlock in an attempt to choke him. Brittany yelled for Todd to stop, but he wouldn’t let up, so she fired a shot from McCallie’s gun. The scuffle continued, and she shot twice more, this time striking Todd. As she was on the phone with a 911 operator, she performed CPR on Todd, but by the time police arrived, he was dead.
The Road to Trial
As authorities were investigating the scene, a rape kit was done, and the report showed 33 wounds on Brittany’s body, which included “bruises on her neck, breasts, arms, legs, and pelvis, bite marks on her neck and chin,” along with evidence of strangulation and secretions on and inside her body, according to The New Yorker. When questioned by the police, Brittany initially told them that it was McCallie, not her, who’d killed Todd, in fear that her story and reason for killing him would not be taken seriously. The following day, however, she confessed to the killing, was arrested, and was held at the Jackson County Jail on a $100,00 bond, according to The Appeal.
While she was in jail and waiting to post bond, Brittany struggled with her mental health. She was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed Xanax, which she was not given while in jail, and had a nervous breakdown as a result. In April 2018, Ramona was able to post her bail with the help of two people who used their homes as collateral. Brittany’s release immediately sparked rumors around town, which ranged from her having a romantic relationship with Todd to the whole thing being a drug deal gone wrong. She was firm in clearing her name, however, and sought to have a Stand Your Ground hearing to prove she was acting in self-defense when she killed Todd.
The road to her hearing was not easy. Per the request of her state-appointed attorney, James Mick, Brittany was psychologically evaluated by a state psychologist to determine her state of mind when she killed Todd and her competency to stand a proper trial. The goal was to prove that her mental state was significantly impaired and thus secure a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which she strongly disagreed with. The evaluation determined she was not competent to stand trial and she was sentenced to stay at Bryce Hospital, a mental hospital, for 90 days.
In December 2019, she finally had her Stand Your Ground hearing scheduled for January 2020, and after it was heard by Jackson County Circuit Judge Jenifer Holt, she lost. Her criminal trial was scheduled for November 2020, but as it approached, Brittany pleaded guilty to Todd’s murder in exchange for a 20-year sentence just a month prior in October 2020, as reported by Alabama.com.
Where Is Brittany Smith Today?
Despite initially being sentenced to serve 20 years in prison, Brittany served 18 months in jail and was released in May 2021. Upon her release, she was also ordered to serve an additional 18 months of house arrest. Following her house arrest, Brittany will be on supervised probation for five years as well.
Today, she is focused on shedding light on her story and reforming the criminal justice system so others, especially victims of abuse, do not have to endure the same trauma. “After the rough waters, smooth sailing,” she told Alabama.com
See the harrowing story of Brittany in Netflix’s “State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith,” streaming now on Netflix.