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Man faces life in prison for beating 73-year-old to death

By Jennifer Feehan • May 29, 2018 at 3:29 PM

TOLEDO — A Toledo man faces life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years after he was found guilty Tuesday for beating a 73-year-old man to death.

Michael Smoot, 39, of the 1700 block of Arlington Avenue, entered an Alford plea — not admitting guilt — to murder for the July, 2017 death of Howard Sites, 73.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Lindsay Navarre scheduled sentencing for June 5.

A friend of the victim found Mr. Sites July 11 bound and beaten to death under his bed at his home in the 4200 block of Packard Road.

"He was bound by the wrist and the ankles and had duct tape wrapped around his head with only an area for the nose to breathe through the duct tape," Frank Spryszak, an assistant county prosecutor, told the court. "He was pushed underneath the bed. It appeared he had received a significant amount of blunt force trauma."

Toledo police stopped Smoot the next day driving the victim's van in the 1900 block of South Reynolds Road. Smoot initially told police he had been at Mr. Sites's home and that Mr. Sites had given him the keys to his van and some money, urging him to leave quickly because his boyfriend was coming over and Mr. Sites didn't want him to see Smoot.

Surveillance video showed Smoot coming in and out of the home several times July 10, Mr. Spryszak said, then returning once on July 11 to take out the garbage. He said investigators believe Smoot killed Mr. Sites on July 10 and discarded the clothing he was wearing when he beat Mr. Sites with the garbage that was left at the curb.

"However when Mr. Smoot was arrested, the mistake that he made is that he had not changed his shoes and socks," Mr. Spryszak said. "Det. [William] Goodlet recognized that there appeared to be blood on his shoes and socks."

Related: Toledo man indicted for murder of 73-year-old — Bond set at $1M for man charged with murder of 73-year-old

Smoot's shoes and socks were tested, and the victim's blood was found on the items, he said. Friends of the victim told investigators that Mr. Sites confided that "he had met Mr. Smoot and was having a romantic weekend with him," Mr. Spryszak said.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said they would ask the court to dismiss an additional count of murder and charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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