JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Body cameras worn by Georgia police on Jan. 26, 2017, recorded the traffic stop of a Jacksonville man where officers found his aunt's body in the back seat of her own car.
Phillip Jason Smith was arrested and extradited to Jacksonville. He would later plead guilty to a charge of first-degree murder for killing 74-year-old Janice Fulton.
News4Jax obtained the body cam video and other evidence in the case showing Smith in handcuffs and smoking a cigarette at a gas station in Henry County, Georgia -- just south of Atlanta -- when officers found Fulton's body.
Locus Grove police were alerted that Fulton's Kia Optima was there by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which was tracking the car via its onboard GPS system.
"I see a Florida ID back there that’s got a lady on it," one officer said. "See the purse down there and the ID?"
A second officer is heard saying, “Yeah, and Comet. He’s got Comet on the floor.”
Police continued to search the front seat, finding marijuana, an open container of alcohol and a knife.
In the back seat, they looked to see what was wrapped in a plastic tarp in the back seat.
“That’s a body, ain’t it?”
Among the evidence released were hundreds of pages of Facebook posts in the days and weeks leading up to the murder. Two days before Fulton was reported missing, Smith posted an image reading: “Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as friends and family.”
In another post, Smith alludes to having bipolar disorder, writing about his experience with it.
Smith was living with Fulton when he killed her.
Smith pleaded guilty after the prosecution said it would drop plans to seek the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison.
“After considerable review, we determined this resolution brings finality to the litigation, certainty in the outcome, and honors the wishes of the victim’s family,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson said.
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