4 men enter guilty pleas in murder at motel

Published on Friday, 22 August 2014 16:28 - Written by Kenneth Dean kdean@tylerpaper.com

Broderick Smith was the last of four defendants to enter a guilty plea for murder in the death of 26-year-old Wesley Scott Lester on Friday, but for a few moments it was not known if he could continue in the proceedings as he began to cry and wail loudly in Judge Kerry Russell’s courtroom. 

Before Russell even began the hearing Friday morning, Smith, 20, started crying loudly as he read the paperwork detailing the plea deal stating he would be confined to 15 years in prison.

As Russell began, the crying got louder. The judge stopped what he was saying and told Smith he knew some people would be upset and others only put on a show, and he couldn’t tell if the man was truly upset or not.

“Only God knows,” he said.

After speaking with his counsel, Smith told the judge he was ready to continue and Russell accepting the plea agreement and sentenced the man to 15 years.

Russell heard all of the cases Friday of the men charged with gunning down Scott at the American Inn on West Erwin last June during a robbery of the victim for his drugs.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he and Jeff Wood prosecuted the cases against 34-year-old Michael Browning, Smith, 18-year-old Darian Pilkinton, and 20-year-old Lawrence Murphy Jr.

Bingham said Pilkinton received a sentence of 40 years, Browning was sentenced to 30 years and Murphy was given 20 years.

“Pilkinton and Browning are the two who went into the room and the other two stayed outside of the room,” he said.

Bingham said the victim's family was aware of the deals before court Friday.

“I’m happy with how the case was resolved, and the family was in agreement with the resolutions of all of the defendants,” he said.