LAKELAND, Fla. — An escaped Georgia inmate accused of shooting and killing a Polk County man has died by suicide.

Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Marshals Task Force and Gulf County Sheriff's Office deputies spotted Stephen Michael Smith in a car driving west on U.S. Highway 98 in Gulf County. They stopped the car at the intersection of Ivy Road in Parker, Fla.

As authorities surrounded him, investigators say Smith shot himself in the head.

Smith, 34, had been accused of shooting 30-year-old Daniel Lee Upton of Lakeland. The shooting happened Monday morning on Sea Pines Lane in St. Joe Beach, Florida, likely spurring from a drug deal gone bad, the sheriff's office said. Just prior to Upton losing consciousness, investigators say he identified Smith as the shooter. 

Smith got away from a work-release program center in Georgia. He had been serving time for robbery.

The Gulf County Sheriff's Office previously said its deputies had arrested 44-year-old Destiny Jene Terry, saying she was the one who facilitated the contact between Smith and Upton. She is charged with principal to second-degree murder.

Destiny Jene Terry
Destiny Jene Terry
Gulf County Sheriff's Office

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