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Sarasota man charged in 2018 homicide

Howard China Smith, III
Howard China Smith, III(SCSO)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 8:37 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Detectives have tied a Sarasota man to an unsolved 2018 homicide, the Sarasota Police Department announced Monday.

Howard China Smith, III, 22, already in state prison on an unrelated drug conviction, is now facing charges of murder and armed robbery with a firearm, according to a news release.

On Jan, 20, 2018, at about 7 p.m., Sarasota Police officers responded to the area of 31st Street and Maple Avenue, to investigate a shooting.  When officers arrived, they found a 32-year-old man in the road near his car with gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where he later died from his injuries. The name of the victim is being withheld under Marsy’s Law.

Several 9mm shell casings were collected from the crime scene and were later determined to all have been fired from the same gun.

In March 2018, Sarasota Police executed a search warrant at Smith’s home in the 3300 block of Central Avenue, on an unrelated case.  During the search, officers found a black Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined the shell casings found at the homicide scene were fired from that Glock.

Smith was arrested on charges for an unrelated narcotics case and was sentenced to three years in state prison. In March of this year, a confidential witness gave Sarasota Police detectives incriminating statements Smith made implicating himself in the 2018 murder.

In May, the Florida State Attorney’s Office filed murder and armed robbery charges based on physical evidence and multiple witness accounts.

On June 9, Smith was transferred from the Florida Department of Corrections Marion prison in Ocala to the Sarasota County Jail.  An arraignment for Smith is scheduled for July 23.

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