Kenneth Ray Smith
Defendant Kenneth Ray Smith testified in his murder trial on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, claiming he killed Tyris Boyd in defense of himself and others. (Joe Tomlinson)

SAPULPA — Kenneth Ray Smith, a man who says he killed his step-daughter’s boyfriend in defense of himself and others, testified during his murder trial Friday that he feels bad for the family of Tyris Boyd but that he had to stop Boyd from attacking his family.

“I didn’t want to take a man’s life,” Smith told the Creek County jury. “Nobody should ever have to go through that.”

On Friday morning, Smith was the last witness to testify in the trial, which began Tuesday. Judge Douglas W. Golden allowed jurors to go home for the weekend and ordered them to return for deliberations at 10 a.m. Monday. Golden instructed jurors not to discuss the trial with anyone or look up information online.

Kenneth Ray Smith was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after fatally shooting Tyris Boyd during a Labor Day party at Smith’s house in September 2020. At the time of the shooting, Smith was evicting Boyd after a weekend of physical confrontations involving Smith’s step-daughter, Jasalynn Snell.

Smith has maintained that the shooting was in defense of himself and his family. Boyd’s mother, Theresa Williams, has said that Smith paused after initially shooting her son and walked around her car to fatally shoot him a final time. But Williams’ claim has been called into question during the trial.

Smith, Smith’s brother and two members of law enforcement testified Friday. While he was on the stand, Smith apologized for shooting Boyd.

“I feel bad. I feel sorry for his mother,” Smith said, tearing up on the witness stand. “I feel sorry. There’s nothing I can do to bring him back.”

Smith emphasized that he felt his actions were necessary to protect himself and his family because Boyd had made threats throughout the day and had been seen possessing a gun.

“I feared for my life, and my family’s life,” Smith said. “Everybody would have been dead.”

Prosecution denied rebuttal witness

Ben Fu
Kenneth Ray Smith’s murder trial continued Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at the Creek County Courthouse in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. (Joe Tomlinson)

After Smith left the stand and his attorney, Ben Fu, rested their case, Creek County Assistant District Attorney Steve Rouse and co-counsel, William Bartley Logsdon, asked Golden if they could recall Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent Marty Wilson as a rebuttal witness, in attempt to impeach the testimony of Michael Galbraith.

A friend of Smith’s brother, Galbraith testified Thursday that he saw Boyd place a gun into a bag and into the car truck prior to Smith shooting Boyd. However, Rouse and Logsdon alleged that Galbraith did not mention that detail to Wilson during an initial interview at the crime scene.

Golden denied the prosecution’s motion to recall Wilson, stating that Rouse did not provide a “foundation” regarding Galbraith’s interview with Wilson when Rouse cross-examined Galbraith. That means when Galbraith testified Thursday to seeing Boyd packing up a gun, Rouse did not provide Galbraith his interview with Wilson and did not question him directly about the alleged omission.

In Oklahoma, persons convicted of first-degree murder face the death penalty or life in prison, with or without parole.

‘To take somebody’s life, it hurt me.’

Kenneth Ray Smith
Kenneth Ray Smith, left, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Tyris Boyd in September 2020. Smith maintains he was justified in shooting Boyd. The case is scheduled for trial beginning Monday, June 14, 2021. (NonDoc)

Smith testified that, on the morning of the shooting, Boyd texted Smith’s wife — Manuella Golden — and asked them to stop using the wifi because his online game “was slowing down.”

Smith said his cousin, Tamara Wooding, who was working remotely from Smith’s house that morning, notified him that his step-daughter and Boyd’s girlfriend, Jasalynn Snell, was upset and that Smith needed to check on her. Smith said Snell told him Boyd was leaving and that she wanted to go to Smith’s mother’s house. Manuella Golden drove Snell there.

Snell testified Thursday that Boyd had thrown her out of the shower that morning, and Wooding testified that she heard the commotion while she was working.

Smith testified that, after Manuella Golden and Snell left, Boyd walked into the living room with a gun, set it down on the table and said he would “beat [Smith’s ass]” before encouraging Smith to go outside and fight him. Smith tried to calm Boyd and encouraged him to leave.

Throughout the rest of the day, Smith said he asked Boyd to leave his property 25 times, an amount he said he counted throughout the day.

Theresa Williams — Boyd’s mother — then arrived at the house to pick up Boyd, Smith testified. Smith said Williams told him that Boyd and Snell needed to “split up.”

Smith said he, Wooding, Wooding’s then-boyfriend, Willie Reed, were making jokes in the kitchen when Boyd walked in and said, “I don’t know what you’re laughing at,” before calling Reed a “bitch.”

Smith testified that Boyd threatened to shoot him, Wooding, Reed and their baby, while pointing a gun at them. Williams intervened, and tried to calm her son, Smith testified.

After that, Smith said he wanted to get everyone out of the house. Smith’s brother, Trevelyn Smith-Relf, and his friend, Michael Galbraith, arrived while everyone was outside.

Smith testified that Williams told Smith, Smith-Relf and Galbraith that her “nephew” was coming, referring to Khalib Springer.

Smith then said arguments escalated as Boyd was packing his belongings into Williams’ car. Smith said Boyd kept asking about $50, which Smith supposedly owed him.

Smith testified that Boyd set down a box and said, “I’m just going to shoot all of y’all,” before turning toward car, opening the trunk and reaching into it. Smith said he had seen Boyd put a black duffle bag into the car, prior to him reaching into it. Galbraith testified Thursday that he saw Boyd put a gun into a bag and then the bag into the trunk of the car.

Smith’s attorney — Ben Fu — asked Smith what happened after he shot Boyd. Smith said he was “stuck” with his arm out holding the gun. Smith said he was frozen for a short while before Galbraith asked Smith to hand him the gun.

Fu asked Smith what happened next.

“I saw Khalib (Springer) walk up to the body and kneel down,” Smith said. “He reached and grabbed the bag out of the trunk, got in his car and left.”

Smith said he walked inside his house and sat at a table, waiting for police to arrive.

When asked by Fu why he answered questions from police, despite having the right to remain silent, Smith said, “I didn’t have anything to lie about.”

Fu then asked about the time Smith has spent pondering the events that took place on Labor Day 2020.

“To take somebody’s life, it hurt me,” Smith said through tears. “I asked him to leave. I don’t know what a person would do in my shoes, if they would do anything different.”

‘He was going to shoot us all’

Theresa Williams
Seen through a Creek County courtroom window, defense attorney Ben Fu, left, and defendant Kenneth Ray Smith, middle, speak during a recess Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Joe Tomlinson)

During cross-examination, Smith told Steve Rouse that he “didn’t know until that day” that Snell was being abused by Boyd. He added that he was not involved in who his step-daughter was dating.

Smith told Rouse that the weapon Boyd had previously pointed at him was large and had a “30-round banana clip.”

Rouse asked Smith about the encounter in the kitchen when people were laughing, questioning whether they were joking about the situation transpiring that day. Smith said they were not.

Rouse then asked Smith if Boyd was facing Smith when he shot him. Smith said, “(Boyd) was reaching in (the trunk), it happened so fast.” After a short pause, Smith added, “He was facing toward us.”

Smith testified that he “can’t recall” how many times he shot.

Rouse asked several times about Boyd’s location when Smith started shooting. Smith told Rouse that Boyd moved around the driver side of Williams’ BMW after Smith started shooting. But, Smith said, after Boyd moved around the BMW, Boyd fell, and Smith lost sight of him.

After Rouse asked the question again, Fu objected to Judge Golden, saying the question had been “asked and answered.” Golden sustained the objection.

Rouse then asked Smith why he did not call police throughout the day.

“Cause the mom said she had the situation under control,” Smith said, adding that calling police would have escalated the situation and that Boyd would have caused harm.

“What do you think was going to happen?” Smith asked Rouse. “He was going to shoot us all.”

Rouse’s final line of questioning related to whether Smith knew if Boyd had a gun when he started shooting. Smith told Rouse that he saw him pull something out of the trunk, but that he did not know for sure.

Rouse then asked Smith, “So you waited until you didn’t know what it was, to shoot him, is that correct?”

Smith replied: “I’d seen him reaching, and I’d seen him pull something silver out. I didn’t know what it was.”

Other testimony

Prior to Smith taking the stand, his brother, Trevelyn Smith-Relf, also testified, largely echoing the same sentiments of other witnesses at the scene.

Smith-Relf testified that he remembered Boyd asking for $50 from Smith before the shooting. He said Smith told Boyd, “Soon as you pull out, I’ll send you your money.”

When Fu asked if he believed Boyd was reaching for a gun, Smith-Relf said, “Yes, sir.” Smith-Relf later testified that he had seen a Smith & Wesson pistol inside the house earlier that day.

Derrick White — an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent — testified Friday that Theresa Williams, Boyd’s mother, did not mention Smith moving around the vehicle and shooting Boyd a second time during her initial interview with White, which took place in his patrol vehicle.

Fu asked if Williams had blood on her when he interviewed her, referring to Williams’ testimony Wednesday in which she said she had blood on her from Boyd slumping into her lap in the driver’s seat. She said she had also performed CPR.

“I would not have let her in my vehicle if she had blood on her,” White testified.

Edina Thomas, a deputy with the Creek County Sheriff’s Office, testified immediately prior to Smith taking the stand Friday.

Fu said during direct examination that a body cam video from another officer had recorded Thomas saying that “the mother” told her that, “A gold car left, and they left with the gun.”

Thomas testified that she did not believe she had been referring to Boyd’s mother, although she told Fu she had been directed not to take witness statements because other law enforcement agents were doing so.

The jury is set to begin deliberations Monday at the Creek County Courthouse. Of the 12 jurors, seven are men and five are women. No one on the jury appears to be Black.