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Prosecutor opposes parole Paul W. Smith

WARREN — Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins is again opposing parole for Paul W. Smith, 53, who shot his wife, Gina, to death July 29, 1987, in the McKinley Heights McDonald’s restaurant where she worked.

In a letter Watkins wrote Tuesday, he asked the parole board to deny release “because of the horrific nature of the crime against his wife and unborn children and the real danger he may pose to surviving family members.”

Watkins asked the parole board to consider the “final terrifying moments of Gina Smith’s life when Paul Smith stalked her down in the early morning hours as she worked as a manager at a McDonald’s restaurant.”

His wife fled to the restaurant’s basement, where she was found “in a kneeling position” having been shot “in the back of the head, execution style,” Watkins said.

Smith has served 31 years of an 18-years-to-life sentence, though Watkins points out that if Smith’s crimes would have been committed under Ohio’s current laws, Smith also might have been convicted and sentenced for the murder of the two unborn children his wife was carrying.

“In 1987, it was not murder to purposefully cause the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy; however, for many years now in Ohio, to murder your wife and unborn children is three murders with three life sentences,” Watkins said.

Smith comes up for parole in November.

Gina Smith’s parents, Carol and Luigi Femia, and Gina’s son Andrew, who was four months old when his mother was killed, continue to oppose parole for Paul W. Smith, Watkins’ letter says.

“These folks deserve some measure of tranquility in knowing that inmate Smith will not possibly be looking them up,” the letter adds.

Smith, who later confessed to the killing, fled from the restaurant with police officers in pursuit. He wrecked his car, then fled on foot, hiding at a house in Girard for two days before being captured.

Smith, then 21, and his wife of seven months lived in Lordstown and with Gina’s parents in Hubbard in the months leading up to the murder. Gina Smith was a 1983 Hubbard High School graduate.

The couple had been estranged leading up to the murder, Smith said, adding that he intended just to talk to his wife July 29, 1987, but took a rifle with him.

Co-workers of Gina Smith’s said Paul Smith tried getting into the locked restaurant, but Gina Smith told them to keep the doors closed.

Co-worker Ray Deluga said Gina Smith started screaming when Paul Smith broke in, causing many of the workers to hide in the basement. Paul Smith pointed the gun at Deluga and another male employee and said, “Where is she?” Deluga said. “The look on his face was scary,” Deluga told police.

Deluga later became a Trumbull County sheriff’s deputy.

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