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The State

January 23, 1985

A Fresno man was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for killing a friend's pregnant wife by hacking her to death with a hatchet. Fresno Superior Court Judge Dennis Caeton refused to grant a new trial motion or set aside special circumstances that required the no-parole sentence for Robert Porter Smith III, 22. He was attending UC Davis at the time of the killing and reportedly confessed to former fraternity brother Robert Marshall, then the assistant assignment editor at KXTV in Sacramento. A new defense attorney charged that Smith received inadequate counsel at the trial, because witnesses who could attack Marshall's credibility were not called, but Caeton rejected the argument. Smith was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for stabbing and strangling Deann Lee Skaggs, 22, who was seven months pregnant, at her Fresno apartment on Aug. 4, 1983.

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