LUCASVILLE, Ohio —
Days before the execution, Brittney Smith said that she has never believed her father killed Autumn and that he had only admitted to it because he had given up hope.
“I know my dad’s innocent,” she said. “I do not believe he did this, and you know, he raised all my cousins, my sister before I was even born, and he never did anything (sexually).”
After the execution, Smith’s attorney, Joseph Wilhelm, said that his client “felt great remorse for the tragic and shocking crime he committed.”
“He was well-behaved and sober while in prison, causing no problems in the institution and living each day with the guilt and grief caused by his alcohol-fueled crime,” said Wilhelm, who also witnessed the execution. “While some may trumpet his execution as appropriate revenge for his crime, Ohio is no safer having executed Steven Smith than had he lived the remainder of his natural life in prison.”
Back on the night of Sept. 29, 1998, Frye was awoken by Smith, her live-in boyfriend of four months.
Smith, who was drunk and naked, laid a naked and lifeless Autumn on Frye’s bed, according to court records.
Frye rushed the baby and her other 2-year-old daughter to a neighbor’s house and called 911. Autumn was pronounced dead after doctors tried to revive her for more than an hour, and Smith was arrested.
The baby was covered in bruises and welts and had severe injuries showing she had been brutally raped, though no semen was present.
At the home, there was no sign of forced entry, and police found a large amount of white cloth that came from Autumn’s diaper strewn about; police found the rest of the diaper in a garbage bin outside, along with 10 empty cans of beer.