Aaron Cody Smith, the former Montgomery police officer convicted of manslaughter, will soon be released from prison after accepting a new plea agreement Wednesday.

Smith, a former officer with the Montgomery Police Department, was charged with murder after the on-the-job shooting of Greg Gunn.

The shooting occurred on Feb. 25, 2016, and Smith was arrested nearly a week later.

Smith's trial ended in November 2019 with a jury finding him guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in January 2020.

Smith is currently incarcerated at the Limestone Correctional Facility, but was transported to Elmore County for the Rule 32 hearing.

In December 2022, the Alabama Supreme Court allowed Smith to file a "writ of certiorari," which asked the Court to review a previous decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court quashed Smith's writ, but several justices suggested that Smith's counsel and subsequent conviction may have been questionable.

In the special opinion, Justice Jay Mitchell wrote that it was "difficult to understand how a reasonable, properly instructed jury could have convicted Smith." 

Justice Tommy Bryan also entered a special opinion, claiming the omission of specific evidence was problematic in Smith's case and possibly raised a "serious question about the effectiveness of Smith's counsel."

On Wednesday, a judge granted his Rule 32 petition, where Smith entered a guilty plea of manslaughter, receiving a split 18-month sentence, meaning Smith will be released as soon as the Alabama Department of Corrections can process him out.

Alabama's Rule Rule 32 allows convicted people to challenge their convictions in the original jurisdiction after exhausting appeals.

In a typical Rule 32 hearing, the prosecutor who initially handled the case would prosecute. However, Attorney General Steve Marshall informed Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey that his office would handle the prosecution earlier this month.

“Today, my Office and former Montgomery Police Officer Cody Smith reached a plea agreement that has been approved and entered by the court,” Marshall said. “Mr. Smith pleaded to manslaughter and will now be released from prison on time served.”

“This case first came to my Office on appeal in 2020. Despite my personal misgivings about the strength of the case against Mr. Smith, my Office successfully defended the conviction in accordance with our statutory duty. I then watched as the case went on to the Alabama Supreme Court and back again to the trial court late last year.”

Marshall went on to say that he sympathized with both the Smith and the Gunn families.

Smith spoke to 1819 News in 2022 from Limestone Correctional Facility, detailing his thoughts on the trial and his incarceration. Smith’s wife and other law enforcement.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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