Bartow, FL -- Timothy Carey took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and said he was at a party the night Tommy Eugene Smith was murdered.
Smith was a 37-year-old and a nursing supervisor at Lakeland Regional Medical Center when his body was found during the early evening hours of Oct. 11, 1996.
Smith's body was found in an orange grove off Edison and Old Berkley roads, near Auburndale. He'd been shot twice in the head and once in the neck. He had been last seen on Oct. 10, leaving his home around 8 p.m. in his Jeep.
After 16 years of silence, Timothy Medders, a witness in the case, called the sheriff's office and told them Timothy Carey, now 36, had shot and killed Smith when Carey was just 19 years old.
Medders says he was there when it happened. He was 16 at the time.
Carey testified he had no idea why Medders had made the accusation, and tried to explain a fingerprint found in Smith's Jeep by saying he recalled having accepted a ride from Smith while he'd been hitchhiking once.
Five days after the murder, the gun used in the shooting was found near the area where Smith's abandoned Jeep was recovered.
Medders told deputies that he and Carey were in Smith's Jeep that night, and that Carey told Smith to drive down a dirt road.
When all three got out of the Jeep, Medders claims Carey robbed Smith and then shot him. Prosecutors say Carey pointed a rifle at Medders too, and forced him to drag Smith's body into the orange grove.
Detectives say the two then left the scene in Smith's Jeep, and abandoned it after it got a flat tire.
Carey faces charges of Murder and Armed Robbery.
Medders, say officials, will not be prosecuted.
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