Murder Trial of Accused Slayer of ASU Professor Nearing End

MAY 7, 2004 - Posted at 7:41 a.m. CDT

STUTTGART, AR - Closing arguments are set for today in the trial of a teenager in Stuttgart for the murder of an Arkansas State University professor.

Yesterday, family members testified that Kirk Otis, now 17, was confused and upset when he made incriminating statements to police.

Kirk is accused of the July 20, 2001, slaying of 49-year-old Barney Smith, who was a military science professor at Arkansas State University and a lieutenant colonel in the Arkansas National Guard.

Smith was fatally shot while sitting on his mother's front porch at Stuttgart.  Otis was 14 at the time.  Prosecutors believe the motive was robbery.

An an audio tape played Tuesday, Otis told investigators that an acquaintance had shot Smith.  But in another audio tape, Otis was heard saying that he shot Smith.

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