Smoot sentencing continued to Sept. 25

Randy Lynn Smoot RSW Regional Jail

Monday’s scheduled sentencing in Rappahannock County Circuit Court of Flint Hill resident Randy Lynn Smoot — found guilty last month of voluntary manslaughter in the October death of Harris Hollow resident Jonas “Jay” Alther — was continued by Judge Jeffrey W. Parker to Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 9 a.m.

The continuance followed a motion surrounding restitutution, including the still undetermined cost incurred for transporting the victim by medevac helicopter to the hospital. The original medevac charge, it was stated in court Monday, was in the $31,000 range, although Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said Alther’s family was attempting to negotiate the cost.

Smoot, wearing a leg restraint, appeared in court Monday clad in a gray and white prison uniform stamped RSW Regional Jail.

The jury issued its verdict on the third day of Smoot’s murder trial after deliberating for three and a half hours. The jury also recommended that Smoot serve eight months in jail. Judge Parker will ultimately decide the punishment based on the convict’s criminal record and sentencing guidelines.

Smoot was initially charged last October with first-degree murder in the death of Alther, but the defendant was indicted on second-degree murder, which under Virginia code is punishable by not less than five nor more than 40 years in prison.

Before his trial began, Smoot entered a plea of not guilty, claiming self-defense.

During the three day trial, the jury heard from almost two dozen witnesses, including local emergency rescue personnel responding to the scene; the medical examiner; a DNA specialist; Sheriff Connie Compton; character witnesses for both sides; and Aaron Dodson, the only eyewitness to the incident.

According to Dodson’s testimony, Smoot on the day of Oct. 19 drank two six-packs of beer, after which he and Smoot drove to Headmasters Pub in Sperryville, where the two ate and continued to drink. Later that night, said Dodson, Smoot became engaged in a physical fight with Alther in the latter’s driveway, and during the altercation Smoot landed two punches, one an uppercut to Alther’s jaw.

“Mr. Alther fell back like a tree and hit his head on the pavement,” said Dodson, and was knocked unconscious. He was later pronounced dead.

— Patty Hardee contributed to this story

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at