Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder Within the Walls

Photo Gallery

Corrections Officer Donna Payant, 31. Her killing reverberated throughout the entire penal system of New York and beyond.

In July 1977 Marilee Wilson, 30, was abducted from downtown Schenectady. Smith confessed this crime in 1978 to state police when he was in custody for the Albany murders.

Lemuel Warren Smith was born in the city of Amsterdam in central New York in 1941.

Dr. Neal Riesner, currently the Chief of Forensic Dentistry for Westchester County Medical Examiner's Office, was a consultant for the New York City Medical Examiner's Office at that time and a diplomat in the American Board of Forensic Odontology.

Dr. Michael Baden, then a Deputy Medical Examiner for the City of New York, was called in. He performed the second autopsy on Payant on May 19 and discovered several additional facts about her injuries.

Dr. Baden concluded that the victim's nipples had been partially amputated by human bites, she also had several bite marks on her breast and face.

Overlay of Smith's teeth on Donna Payant's breast.

1977 and 1981 casts of Smith's teeth. The bite marks on the body of Donna Payant matched the bite marks on the body of Marilee Wilson. There could be only one inescapable conclusion. Lemuel Smith had killed both women.

Bite mark comparison on one of Ted Bundy's victims. One of the most famous bite mark cases on record occurred in Florida during the 1970s, serial killer Ted Bundy murdered several college students on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Governor Hugh Carey said in an official statement out of Albany that Mrs. Payant's murder "resulted from an act of unconscionable violence which will be met with a swift response."

New York City attorney William Kunstler, with a reputation for taking on unpopular and controversial causes, joined the effort to save Lemuel Smith from the electric chair In early June 1981.

Dr. Lowell Levine, the forensic odontologist who had once worked on the Marilee Wilson case, was called to the stand and gave the results of his comparison analysis between the bite marks found on Payant's breast and the Wilson injuries.

C. Vernon Mason was chosen to defend Smith. At that time, Mason was the general counsel for the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

The outside walls of the Greenhaven Correctional Facility.

Newspaper headline after the trial.

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