July 21, 2021

Walthall County man gets life in prison after convicted of 2018 murder

Therese Apel

Jesse Scott Smith
John Ashley Bennett

A Walthall County man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted in a 2018 homicide.

Jesse Scott Smith was sentenced Wednesday morning after the guilty verdict was returned in the death of John Ashley Bennett on April 21, 2018.

Bennett, 42, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head by his mother on the morning of April 21, 2018, at his home on Smith Lake Road.

Bennett’s father, Leon Bennett, was able to place two of his son’s friends at his home the night before he was found, and one of those was Smith.

John Ashley Bennett was a chef and an avid outdoorsman as well. He loved animals, and wasn’t able to be as active as he wanted to be since he’d had a hip replacement. His obituary stated that he “loved to be on a tractor.”

While the case was a Lincoln County case, the trial was held in Walthall County after a change of venue.

Smith was sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He will also be required to pay a fee of $10,000 and restitution of $7,500 for funeral expenses and court costs.

Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams and Assistant District Attorney Timothy Jones tried the case for the prosecution, and Judge David Strong presided over the trial.

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