Testimony Begins in Stuttgart Trial in ASU Professor's Slaying

MAY 4, 2004 - Posted at 7:21 a.m. CDT

STUTTGART, AR - Prosecutors drew testimony from the mother of a slain Arkansas State University professor in the first day of a trial of a teenager accused in the slaying.

Kirk Otis, who was 14 at the time of the killing in 2001, is on trial.  He is charged with capital murder in the death of 49-year-old Barney Smith.  The victim was visiting his mother in Stuttgart when he was shot dead.

Hazel Smith told jurors her son was sitting by himself on the front porch when she heard a "terrible loud noise."  When she got to the door, her son was down, and he told her he'd been robbed and to call 911.

The judge in the case has barred the death penalty.  If convicted as charged, Otis would be sentenced to life in prison.  Prosecutors say Otis confessed to police.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)