FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2011
For More Information, contact:
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Suzanne Webb (334) 242-7351
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AG STRANGE, DOC COMMISSIONER THOMAS ANNOUNCE
ARREST OF FORMER CORRECTIONAL LIEUTENANT FOR MURDER
OF INMATE AT VENTRESS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
(MONTGOMERY)–Attorney General Luther Strange and Department of
Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas announced the arrest today of a former
correctional lieutenant who is charged with murder in the beating death of an inmate at
Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County on August 4, 2010. Michael Anthony
Smith was arrested today by agents of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division
and officers of the Auburn Police Department. He was taken to the Lee County Jail.
Bond was set at $500,000. Smith, 37, is a resident of Auburn.
Attorney General Strange’s Office presented evidence to a Barbour County grand
jury on October 17, resulting in an indictment* charging Smith with murder, a class A
felony. Specifically, the indictment charges that Smith intentionally caused the death of
Rocrast Donnell Mack “by beating him with his hands, fists, feet, and/or baton.” Mack,
who was 24, was taken to a hospital in Troy and later transferred to a hospital in
Montgomery where he died the following morning.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Corrections in January,
the DOC Commissioner ordered an immediate internal investigation at the time of the
incident and also requested that the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) investigate
the matter. Information released by the Department of Corrections stated that the ABI
found possible criminal conduct by correctional officers, and that two were fired and
four others resigned under threat of being fired. The names of the officers were not
released. According to reports from the Department of Corrections, the Commissioner
referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office, which resulted in an investigation
and the prosecution that is announced today.
“When correctional officers are sworn in, they take an oath of office that they will
not abuse those in their charge. The vast majority of correctional personnel live up to
that oath even while working under challenging conditions,” said Attorney General
Luther Strange. “In this case, however, a senior officer is accused of not only violating
his oath of office, but of being so brutal in his actions that he took the life of an inmate
under circumstances that make murder the appropriate charge. This is a tragedy not
only for the inmate’s family, but for the entire Department of Corrections whose
reputation was tarnished by this vicious crime. Neither the DOC nor this office
501 Washington Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 242-7300
www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 2
tolerates the use of excessive force in controlling inmates, and when officers cross the
line, they will face the serious consequences of their acts.”
Commissioner Thomas stated, “In my previous capacity as General Counsel and
now as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, I have urged
Attorney General Strange to prosecute this matter to the full extent of the law. I am
thankful and supportive of the Attorney General’s willingness to see that justice is
served and that those responsible for this tragic event are held accountable.”
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of 99 years to life imprisonment.
No further information about the investigation or about Smith’s alleged crimes other
than that stated in the indictment may be released at this time. The investigation of this
matter is ongoing.
Attorney General Strange commended his Investigations Division and Assistant
Attorneys General Don Valeska, chief, Ben Baxley and John Hensley, all of his Violent
Crimes Division, and Angelique Pugh of his Computer Services Section. The Attorney
General also thanked the Department of Corrections and the Alabama Bureau of
Investigation for valuable assistance in the preliminary investigations of this matter.
*An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.