Clay King Smith

Executed May 8, 2001 by Lethal Injection in Arkansas

29th murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
712th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Arkansas in 2001
24th murderer executed in Arkansas since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Lethal Injection
Clay King Smith

W / M/ 27 - 30

Misty Erwin
W / F / 20
Shelley Sorg
W / F / 24
Sean Sorg
W / M / 5
Taylor Sorg
W / F / 3
Samantha Rhodes
W / F / 12

her cousin,

cousin's child,

cousin's child,


Girlfriend Misty Erwin reported that Smith battered her and wanted police assistance to move out of house. When she got there, she withdrew complaint and decided to stay with Smith. Two days later her body was found in the house along with a cousin, 2 small children, and a babysitter, all shot to death with a rifle.Smith located at hunting club and held police at bay for an hour with rifle, later proved to be murder weapon. Made admissions during standoff, until shot in arm by police. Claimed drug induced. Waived appeals.

State v. Smith, 12 SW3d 629 (Ark. 2000).
Smith v. State, 39 SW3d 739 (Ark. 2001).

Internet Sources:

Pine Bluff Commercial

May 06, 2001 - "EXECUTION EMOTION; Families Still Grieving Over Killing Not Ready For Forgiveness," by Patty Wooten.

Clay King Smith has spent his final days writing letters. Smith, who is scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the March 1998 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Misty Erwin, 20; her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24; Sorg's two children, Sean Michael, 5; and Taylor, 3; and a family friend, Samantha Rhodes, 12, wrote letters to the families of each of his victims asking for forgiveness and telling them he will waive his right to appeal unless they ask him to do otherwise. No one did.

In a letter dated April 22, Smith told Misty Erwin's father, Randy, her mother Lula, and her three sisters, Tabitha, Margo and Francis, that he is waiving his right to appeals so that they could move on with their lives. "You don't need to keep reliving what happened over and over and that's what appeals would do," Smith wrote. "If you all want me to appeal you should let me know and I will. Otherwise, I'm going home to be with Jesus. I can hardly wait. I believe I am going to see Misty there..."

Although Smith still has the right to appeal and ask the governor for reprieve, Roger Sorg says there would be a riot if Smith's execution is stayed. "If the governor stops this, it will start a riot," said Sorg, whose wife and two young children were found shot to death at cousin Misty Erwin's mobile home in March 1998. Gathered at the Star City home of Erwin's parents Thursday evening, family members of four of the five victims told of the heartache Smith caused them. "I still catch myself buying Christmas presents for four instead three," said Lula Erwin, who lost one of her four daughters, a niece, a great nephew and great-niece. "He has hurt everybody in this room. You don't want to live and you don't want to die." Between sobs, Misty's oldest sister, Tabitha Bunting, read a poem about domestic abuse she said sums up the tragedy.

Bunting broke down in uncontrollable sobs throughout the reading of "I got flowers today," while her husband Tony comforted her. "It narrows it down to what really happened," she said. Misty Erwin's family said Smith controlled her. "She was held hostage in there," Randy Erwin said, explaining that Smith would not allow Misty to call, write, or visit her family. "He had no right to hold her hostage," Bunting said. "He held her in that trailer like an animal in a kennel." "And now he's sending us letters with sermons and asking us to forgive him," Lula Erwin said. "The nerve of this man, why does he have to torment us?" Lula Erwin, who said she had nightmares for three weeks after the trial, has been hospitalized three or four times since the murders and is still on medication. "They've got her on all kinds of medicine," Randy Erwin explained. "She takes medicine before she goes to bed and medicine when she wakes up." Roger Sorg, who married Misty's sister, Francis, about a year-and-a-half the murders, embraced the couple's young son as he talked about the wife and two children he lost. "She was an easy-going person with a lot of spunk," Roger Sorg said, describing Shelly Sorg. "And she loved her children." Roger Sorg, who will witness the execution, says he doesn't know if he will be able to forgive Smith until he is executed. "Maybe after he's gone," Roger Sorg said. "When we don't have to worry about him any more." But Francis Sorg still can't find it in her heart to forgive Smith for killing her sister. "No," Francis Sorg said quietly. "I won't ever." Misty Erwin's sisters, Margo Erwin and Tabitha Bunting both pray they will someday be able to forgive Smith, but neither are sure if they can.

"I pray I have it in me to forgive him after he's gone," Tabitha Bunting said. "I pray for the sake of myself and my soul that I can." Misty Erwin's parents aren't sure either. When they heard that Smith wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread across her grave, Randy and Lula Erwin were furious. "I don't want her near no devil," Randy Erwin said. "The good Lord might forgive him but He's got more heart than I've got." However, Randy Erwin, who will also witness the execution, says he may forgive Smith after he is executed. While they all expressed sympathy for Smith's family, Tabitha Bunting said it doesn't seem fair to her that Smith will know the day and hour he will be killed. "He will never know the fear those women and kids had - he shot them like deer." Bunting's husband, Tony, who said very little during the interview, agreed with his wife. "In my opinion they shouldn't let him know when they are going to do it," Tony Bunting said. "He should have to live every day feeling the same fear they felt looking down the barrel of that gun." Smith declined to be interviewed.

Pine Bluff Commercial

May 09, 2001 - "SUN SETS ON MURDERER; Clay King Smith, 30, Was Executed By Lethal Injection Tuesday," by Patty Wooten.

VARNER - As the families of his victims watched, Clay King Smith was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night for murdering two women and three children in 1998.

Smith, 30, a former Bible student from Jefferson County, was executed at the Cummins Correctional Unit for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend Misty Erwin, 20; her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24; Sorg's two children, Sean Michael, 5; and Taylor 3; and 12-year-old family friend, Samantha Rhodes. In his last words, Smith apoligized to his victims' family members. In a brief final statement, while strapped to a gurney at the Cummins Correctional Unit he spoke to four family members of his victims as they watched on a closed circuit television. "I'd like to say I'm sorry about what I did to the victims' families. I hope your hearts heal. I love my family. I love my family."

At 9:03 p.m. a lethal mix of chemicals was injected into into his arm. His eyes fluttered as he took three deep breaths and clinched the leather strap in his right hand. He was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m. Smith's spirtual advisor, the Rev. Robby Mitchell, of El Dorado, said Smith appeared very calm prior to the execution. "He was upbeat, calm and full of peace," Mitchell said. "He told me he loved me and he had made his peace with God. He said when he took his last breath it would not be the end and he would see me again." Mitchell said Smith told him he lost his walk with the Lord and got involved in satanism and drugs. Mitchell attributed the murders to the power of drugs. Despite candelight vigils at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, there were no demonstrators on the grounds at Cummins.

The bodies of Smith's victims were found on March 25, 1998, in a mobile home at 3105 Pinto Road in Jefferson County where Smith had lived with Erwin. He was arrested the following day in Lincoln County. Two days before the murders, Erwin reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office that she had been battered by Smith and was going to move out. When a deputy accompanied her to her home to get her belongings, Erwin found Smith there and decided not to press charges. "He was a very kindhearted man," Mitchell said. "It just shows the power of drugs." Smith offered no witnesses at trial and waived his right to appeal but prior to the execution he wrote letters to the victims' families saying that he would appeal if they asked him. No one did. Smith's Little Rock attorney Tammy Harris, who spoke to him minutes before the execution, said he told her he had made his decision and was going through with the execution. "He said he had made his peace and was resolved to go through with it," Harris said.

Smith was the third consecutive death row inmate to waive at least part of his appeal rights. David Dewayne Johnson, excecuted Dec. 19, 2000 and Christina Marie Riggs, executed May 2, 2000, both waived part or all of their rights. Smith's execution was the 195th in Arkansas since 1913 when the state took over executions and the 24th since the state resumed killing death row inmates in 1990.


A May 8 execution date was set for a man convicted of killing his girlfriend, her cousin and three children. Gov. Mike Huckabee set the date for Clay King Smith, who was convicted in the March 25, 1998, slayings at a home near Pine Bluff. A judge ruled in November 1999 that Smith was competent enough to waive his appeal rights. At the hearing, Smith told the court he was sorry for the pain he had caused and added, "I don't want to do any more harm." Jefferson County Circuit Judge H.A. Taylor said Smith had knowingly waived his appeal and understood the implications. Smith was convicted in the shootings of his girlfriend, Misty Erwin, 20; her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24; and her two children, Sean Michael, 5, and Taylor, 3; and a family friend, Samantha Rhodes, 12. The state Supreme Court, in a routine review of death-row cases, affirmed Smith's convictions last month. The justices allow inmates to drop their appeals if they demonstrate that they know what might happen. Smith said he made the decision because he didn't want to put his family or the victims' families through a lengthy appeal process. Smith was arrested the day after the bodies were discovered. His capture followed a shootout with authorities near Star City in Lincoln County. Smith fled into a wooded area when police tracked him down at a house. He was shot in an arm after he refused to put down the rifle. During the stand-off, he yelled at the police, "I sent three of them to Heaven; I don't know where the other two went.".

APBNews.Com (Kelly P. Kissel, Associated Press)

May 9 ARKANSAS - The state executed a murderer Tuesday who said he wouldn't appeal his sentence because it would bring more torment to the families of his 5 victims. Clay King Smith, 30, died for the 1998 killings of his ex-girlfriend, her cousin and three children at Pine Bluff. "I'd like to say I'm sorry about what I did to the victims' families," Smith said before his death. "I hope your hearts can heal. I love my family. I love my family." Smith had written to the families telling them he would not challenge his death sentence if it would cause them more pain. With their permission, he said, he would have fought for his life. Word from the families never came.

Smith had not filed any appeals with the federal court and did not ask Gov. Mike Huckabee for clemency. He could have stopped his execution until the last minute. Federal judges have previously granted automatic stays to inmates who have not filed federal court challenges. Brenda Bratton, the mother of one of the victims, told the Pine Bluff Commercial newspaper that Smith had written to her and said, "something woke him up and told him to kill." Smith was convicted of killing Misty Erwin, 20, in her Pine Bluff home, along with her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24 and Sorg's children, Sean Michael, 5, and Taylor, 3. Samantha Rhodes, 12, a family friend, was also slain.

Smith becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Arkansas and the 24th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Smith becomes the 29th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 712th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.