Kenneth Wayne Smith killed Anita McKinney when he fired a gun at a small group of men, women and children as they scrambled to get away during a confrontation at a Modesto park 20 years ago.
Prosecutors say Smith, now 38, has agreed to remain in prison for at least another three years, but recent changes in state law might make him eligible again for parole sooner.
Smith, of Modesto, was 18 years old when he opened fire that day at Kewin Park, just north of La Loma Avenue. The state’s Youthful Offender Act can accelerate his next parole hearing date, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
At his July 5 parole hearing at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, Smith agreed to the three-year parole denial. He has been serving a sentence of 31 years to life in prison for McKinney’s death and three others he wounded, including 5- and 6-year-old brothers who were playing nearby.
McKinney, 40, was struck by gunfire in the back. She died at a hospital two days after the shooting.
The deadly confrontation occurred June 9, 1997. Smith was with two friends at the park, and an argument began between one of Smith’s friends and another group. Authorities said Smith pulled the 9mm handgun from his waistband and aimed it at one person before firing a shot into the ground.
As the group ran away, Smith began shooting at them, according to prosecutors.
Smith testified in his 1998 trial, insisting he never intended to hurt anyone. His attorney argued Smith fired the gun because he felt threatened by several older men who had gathered around him and his friends.
A jury found Smith guilty of second-degree murder with a gun, assault with a gun while inflicting great bodily injury, and assault with a gun.
Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394