Share and Follow
A woman found guilty of using an Apple AirTag to track her cheating boyfriend to a bar before repeatedly running him over in a parking lot and killing him in front of bystanders was sentenced Thursday to spend 18 years in prison.
Gaylyn Morris, 27, was tried in a Marion County courtroom for murder in August, but the defendant was convicted only of voluntary manslaughter in the traumatic asphyxiation death of 26-year-old Andre Smith. As Law&Crime explained after the conviction, Indiana law and the relevant term “sudden heat,” a mitigating factor, “reduce[d] what otherwise would be murder […] to voluntary manslaughter.”
Connected to the mitigation from murder to manslaughter was a lesser sentence, and that’s what Morris received Thursday.
The two-page sentencing order from Marion County Superior Court Judge Marshelle Dawkins Broadwell specifically noted that the defendant was charged with murder but convicted on voluntary manslaughter while acting under “sudden heat.”
Morris was sentenced to serve 18 years in the Indiana Department of Correction and given credit for 476 days in jail, court records said. A subsequent entry on the docket clarified that Morris has tallied “635 credit days (476 actual, from 6/3/2022, plus 159 earned).”
The difference in the sentence is more than significant. Had Morris been convicted of murder, she would have faced 45 to 65 years behind bars — or worse. The maximum possible punishment for voluntary manslaughter was 30 years and Morris received a little more than half of that.
Prosecutors said at trial that on June 2, 2022, hours before Morris confronted Smith and another woman at Tilly’s Pub & Grill in Castleton, she had “worked herself up into a tizzy” and tracked Smith “by hiding an AirTag in the back seat of his car.”
According to a probable cause affidavit, Morris was caught on video inside the bar throwing punches at the other woman before she, Smith, and the other woman were kicked out of the pub for causing a scene.
Witness Abby Winters testified at trial that a short time later she saw Morris “hit the gas” in the parking lot after midnight on June 3, 2022. Winters said she “heard what felt like a speed bump and some crunching” and saw Morris driving the car back and forth over Smith’s body in the parking lot.
The testimony was consistent with details Winters told investigators immediately after the fatal incident:
A.W. got to her car and looked over to her right and saw Smith standing there, and then he was not standing. A.W. stated that Gaylyn Morris was driving slow and purposeful, but once she got to Andre Smith, she hit the gas, and Smith fell over and was on the ground. A.W. saw her back up over him and then go back over to him again. She could hear the crunching sound and saw the car going up as if going over a hump. She remembers it being eerily quiet, she thought to herself is he really under the car and if he was still alive he would be screaming, but there was nothing from him[.]
Winters said she then saw Morris get out of the vehicle and start “pacing around the parking lot.” Morris was arrested at the scene.
Morris’ defense attorney Max Wiley correctly predicted at trial that jurors would find “sudden heat” mitigated the crime from murder to manslaughter.
“When she goes to the bar, it’s to confront her boyfriend” and the other woman she thinks is “cheating on her with her boyfriend, whose bills she’s paying, whose rent she’s paying, who’s treating her like a dog,” Wiley said. “And she’s going there to confront him, not to kill anybody. If she was going to kill, why didn’t she bring a gun?”
On Thursday in court, Andre Smith’s mother Laprecia Sanders condemned Morris and called her a murderer.
“My son did not deserve to be murdered because of her seeing him with another woman because she’s been seeing him with other women,” Sanders said, according to local NBC affiliate WTHR. “This has been going on. He was not married to her. He didn’t owe her nothing. He don’t share a kid with her or anything.”
Morris, for her part, reportedly offered an apology to Smith’s family and to his daughter “for the hurt and pain that I caused.”
“I understand that this is a tragic situation for everyone that sits in this courtroom, and I’m so sorry that I caused it. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would and it would be handled much differently, so differently,” Morris reportedly said. “I’m praying for their strength, healing and recovery. Once again, I’m so sorry to his family. I’m very sorry. I apologize.”
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]