WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A 30-year-old man was found guilty Friday of killing a suburban West Palm Beach jewelry store owner last year during an early morning robbery. He is the second man involved in the deadly robbery to be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Arron M. Smith, of Riviera Beach, was found guilty of first-degree murder with a firearm while wearing a mask, robbery with a firearm while wearing a mask, conspiracy while wearing a mask, and two counts of false imprisonment with a firearm while wearing a mask.
A judge ordered him to serve two life sentences plus 60 years in the Department of Corrections.
According to prosecutors, Smith and 53-year-old Kenneth B. Laws entered the West Palm Coin and Jewelry Exchange on the corner of Westgate and Congress avenues in late July 2010. They were dressed in dark clothing and wearing masks, and demanded 44-year-old John Lauseng open the store's safe.
Another employee was forced to the back of the office and another opened the front door while the two robbers argued.
As Lauseng tried to escape, he was shot in the back and arm. Lauseng was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center where he died.
Smith and Laws fled the scene in a van that was allegedly driven by 42-year-old Hasan Jones.
In her closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Barbara Burns reminded jurors of witness accounts of how Lauseng pleaded, both for his life and the lives of the others inside the store.
"He was pleading 'let them go, they don't have anything to do with this.' He was saying 'please don't kill me. I have a young daughter,'" Burns said.
Defense attorney Peter Grable tried unsuccessfully to convince the jury that Smith's role in the crime was doubtful.
"I have looked at the evidence, and I don't see how it places Mr. Smith at the crime scene at all," Grable said.
In March of last year Laws, of West Palm Beach, received a mandatory life sentence on a murder charge. He also received a life sentence for a robbery charge, plus another 120 years in prison on other charges.
Jones, of suburban West Palm Beach, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March of last year in exchange for his testimony against Smith.
He has not yet been sentenced.