Man charged with beating cousin to death

By: Shalah Sasse Email
By: Shalah Sasse Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, September 28, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- 25-year-old Brian Lorenzo Smoot is in the Richmond County Jail. He is charged with murder, accused of beating his first cousin to death with a crowbar.

Family and friends comforted each other after 24-year-old Donte Safford was murdered early Friday morning. It happened at 2344 Shadowood Drive.

"Deputies found a male slumped over on the couch, he was unresponsive," Sgt. Richard Roundtree said.

Richmond County deputies got the call at 7:45 Friday morning. They said a fight happened in the grandfather's back yard in the one-bedroom cottage.

"It was at a relative's house, we know that he was involved in an altercation with another relative," Roundtree said.

Investigators said Safford got in an argument with his cousin Brian Smoot about potential drug use. According to investigators, the argument escalated and turned physical. They said it appears Safford was hit several times in the head and body with a crowbar. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Neighbors said they did not hear any noise Friday morning, and were shocked when they found out what happened.

"I'm thinking there's a lot of chaos and we don't know which way to go or how it's gonna pan out, so hoping for the best," Ralph Hamilton said.

Family and friends said they don't understand how the argument could get so serious.

"It's a close-knit family and it really surprised us that something could happen like this," Hamilton said.

An autopsy was performed Friday. Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner, Mark Bowen said Safford died from multiple blunt force trama to the head and neck.

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  • by Concerned Location: Augusta on Oct 1, 2007 at 01:11 PM
    Jim, I sincerely hope your family never has to endure such a tragedy. Your comments reveal a deep insensitivity for all affected. We don't know what happened but we know that the Smoot and Safford families will never be the same.
  • by Mary Location: Augusta on Oct 1, 2007 at 11:49 AM
    These kids don't care about anyone's else, even their own. They are born into it and it's all they know. What a pity.
  • by Neighbor Location: Augusta on Oct 1, 2007 at 10:46 AM
    Sadly, I never got to meet Donte. He seemed to be a pretty cool dude from afar. It's very tragic what transpired between the two cousins, and our hearts go out to the family, friends and all those affected. May God be with you.
  • by addcocker Location: unidentified on Oct 1, 2007 at 09:44 AM
    i am a friend of the defendents step-sister and i would first of all like to say that i personally feel hurt to see a friend cry and for to families to show animostity towards brian but i'm sorry for the altercation that had occured and send my best wishes towards the family and uhh jim you gotta smart watch whut cha say partna be easy
  • by Terry Location: home on Oct 1, 2007 at 07:28 AM
    I know this neighborhood. There are a lot more people at risk there. Some of the young people are overwhelmed, frustrated, and don't have the coping skills for what they are being faced with. The Smoots and Saffords need our prayers to recover, heal and somehow turn this into something positive. We need to pay attention to our young people and help lift them up out of despair and desparation. I don't know these youngsters, but all life is precious. One life is gone, another one is facing grave consequences, and many more hang in the balance, affected by this or the environment that brought this about. Too many casualties! How many murders just this year? 20 in the CSRA? How many people affected? Everyone, somehow.
  • by Aireka Location: Washington on Sep 30, 2007 at 06:23 PM
    First I would like to give all condolences to the family. I was an ex girlfriend to the defendant and I know how much he loved his cousin. So I know right at this moment hes feeling the pain hes caused to others because he himself is feeling the same pain. He loves hes little cousin dearly. I believe drugs was a substance used and often a subtance abused. I feel we need a better system to keep these drugs off the streets.
  • by jim riel Location: girard ga on Sep 30, 2007 at 06:00 PM
    crack heads doing crack heads, duh, drug deal gone bad???
  • by Concerned Location: Augusta on Sep 29, 2007 at 05:01 AM
    My heart goes out to the Smoot/Safford families. I knew Brian and Donte!!! This is something I would have never guessed in a million years that would happen!!! I'm in total shock and disbelief!!! I will be praying for everyone who this has affected.
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