A Delaware County jury has recommended
that a Pennsylvania gay man receive life without parole for murdering
a young man in his home, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The jury found William Smithson guilty
of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, attempted rape,
kidnapping, and drug possession.
Smithson, 43, drugged Jason Shepard
with GHB – the date rape drug – attempted to violate him and
ultimately strangled him to death when he resisted, prosecutors said.
William Smithson is a gay man who
frequently hosted gay sex parties which featured pornography, crystal
methamphetamine and GHB.
Jason Shepard, 23, a sports marketing
major at South Dakota college, was interning at Smithson's office in
Edgmont, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 2006 when he was found dead in
Smithson's basement by police.
On Monday, Smithson took the stand in a
last ditch effort to save his own life. It quickly became apparent
that the death of his grandmother had severely affected him. He
lived with his grandmother from about the age of 19, only parting
from her side when she moved to a nursing home in 2000.
Afterward, he said, he began using
drugs. And in 2006, police confronted Smithson about the missing
Shepard at the gravesite of his grandmother.
“I didn't know I was gay,” Smithson
said Monday. It would not be until after his grandmother's death
that he would admit this to even himself.
Smithson said he began using drugs to
enhance his sexual pleasure, but eventually became a hard-core user.
He said he would often stay up for six days in a row doing drugs
During the trial, Daniel Hall testified
he received a frantic call on Sept. 19, 2006 from ex-boyfriend
Smithson and drove from Virginia to pacify him. The dead body of
Jason Shepard lay in the bedroom.
The next day, Smithson filed a
missing-persons report on Shepard with police.
But it was ex-boyfriend Hall who two
days later would call police and tell them what he knew. Shepard's
lifeless body was found in the early stages of decomposition in
Smithson's basement, wrapped in sheets and bound by belts.
Smithson's formal sentencing is
scheduled for January 30.