Havana man accused of murder

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58-year-old arrested in connection with alleged stabbing death

By Alice Du Pont

Willie Frank Pennick, 58, of Havana is in the Gadsden County Jail without bond after he allegedly stabbed 38-year-old Darrell Lamar “Yang” Smart in the stomach with a steak knife  April 4 at 614 E. 1st St., in Havana. The incident happened around 7:45 p.m.

According to an arrest report, Smart had been a guest at Pennick’s home and the two had been drinking on the porch. For some reason called Smart’s visit the third time he (Smart) had “tried me,” Pennick said in a taped interview.

According to a report released by the Havana Police Department, when officers arrived at the address, Smart was lying in the front yard bleeding from the stomach. His eyes were open, he had a weak pulse but was non-responsive to police. Lorenzo Griffin and his wife, Deshonda, were standing over him. When asked if they knew who stabbed Smart, the Griffins said, “He’s in there” pointing to Pennick’s residence.

Approximately five minutes after police arrived, EMS arrived and Smart was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Pennick was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder.

During the police interview, Pennick said Smart was staring at him, and he became afraid of him. That’s when he went inside the house and came back to the porch with a steak knife. He said he feared Smart would hurt him so he stabbed him once in the right side of his stomach before Smart could do anything to him, according to the report.

Pennick told police the Griffins could have called EMS sooner and if they had, Smart would still be alive. He did not indicate that he made any attempt to call 9-1-1 himself for Smart, according to the report.

According to the police report, Pennick told authorities he did not intend to kill Smart; he just wanted him to leave him alone. (He) indicated he was very sorry for stabbing Smart and believed during the interview (before he was pronounced dead) that he had killed Smart and said it several times. He was very emotional, often crying and wailing toward the end of the interview.

The stabbing caused damage to Smart’s liver, stomach and pancreas, but the fatal injury was damage to the abdominal aorta. Smart was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m.