Preble County, Ohio Prosecutor's OfficeMartin P. Votel, Prosecuting Attorney

Tyler Smith Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Murder

Published on February 3rd, 2016


Tyler Smith, age 24, of West Alexandria, has entered a plea of guilty to aggravated murder in the shooting death of Jerry Mason. Sentencing is scheduled for March 15, 2016.

On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Tyler Smith, of West Alexandria, entered a guilty plea to one count of “Aggravated Murder” (R.C. 2903.01(A)) in the Preble County Court of Common pleas. Trial in the case had been scheduled to begin on Monday, February 8, 2016. Smith was represented by local attorney Brian Muenchenback with the State of Ohio represented by Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel.

On Friday, May 17, 2013 at approximately 6:17 A.M., Preble County Sheriff’s dispatch received a 911 call from Smith reporting that he had “done something bad and needed to go to jail.” Deputies responded to 5877 Lexington Road to discover the body of Jerry Mason on a couch in the living room. Mason had been shot in the head with a pump-action shotgun and his body had been covered with a blanket. Mason was the boyfriend of Smith’s mother, Renee Browning, and the three had lived together at that address. Smith was interviewed on scene and again later at the Preble County Sheriff’s Office: he confessed to shooting Mason while Mason slept on the couch. The motive for the murder was unclear, but Smith indicated that repeated arguments between himself and the victim had caused him to begin contemplating the murder for several weeks before committing the crime.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for March 15, 2016. Aggravated Murder is an “unclassified offense” under Ohio law, and therefore has its own sentencing requirements and mandates. Ohio law gives a sentencing court four options when sentencing a defendant for aggravated murder: Life without the possibility of parole; a sentence of 30 years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 30 years in prison; a sentence of 25 years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 25 years in prison; and a sentence of 20 years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 20 years in prison. The court must impose one of these four sentences. At the conclusion of the plea hearing, the Court ordered a presentence investigation (PSI) to assist the court in determining which of the four available sentences is appropriate in the case.

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY MARTIN P. VOTEL: The defendant contemplated this murder, and the method of the murder, for weeks; he ultimately decided to shoot Jerry Mason with a shotgun at contact range while Jerry slept. Mr. Mason never heard the defendant coming and never moved before being shot. Obviously, this crime was premeditated, viscous, and senseless. The State is gratified that Tyler Smith accepted responsibility for his actions and that he will answer for them beginning on March 15th, 2016. The thoughts and prayers of this office, and no doubt this community, are with Mr. Mason’s family.