A Fairbanks man convicted of second-degree murder was sentenced to serve 40 years behind bars on Wednesday for the death of a 24-year-old father.
In June, Ryder Alan Smith, 24, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2019 death of Peter Horace-Wright after a bench trial before Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Brent Bennett. Horace-Wright died at Badger Towing and Recovery, located on Peger Road, around 5 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2019, after being shot by Smith twice in the upper thigh near the groin and once in the abdomen after an altercation ensued between the men, according to court documents.
Smith contacted his father after shooting Horace-Wright and waited 11 minutes before calling authorities as Horace-Wright moaned in pain. He initially told police that he had shot an intruder during a burglary but later said Horace-Wright attacked him while they were discussing a truck that was for sale.
Assistant District Attorney Katy Mason requested Judge Bennett impose a sentence of 70 years, with 20 years suspended and 10 years of probation for the killing.
Second-degree murder is an unclassified felony in the state of Alaska and carries an applicable sentencing range of 15 to 99 years.
“This death is not just the taking of a life, but it was a slow death while Ryder Smith stood above him, taunting him with the fact that he was dying, taunting him with the fact that he couldn’t call 911 and watching him expire,” Mason said while addressing the courtroom filled with family members of both Smith and Horace-Wright. “That is so much worse than a quick death.”
Defense attorney Jay Fulk proposed a 35 year sentence with 10 years suspended, citing Smith’s rehabilitation prospects and community involvement.
After a two hour deliberation, Judge Bennett said he is “guardedly optimistic” about the prospect of rehabilitation for Smith.
“This wasn’t one shot to disarm someone and they die, or two shots and someone died. There was a third shot after Peter was screaming in agony,” Bennett said over muffled cries from Horace-Wright’s family.
“His statements to Peter as he was dying an agonizing death were gratuitous, they would’ve inflicted emotional harm on Peter and they were for no end other than his own gratification,” he continued.
Judge Bennett imposed a 60-year sentence with 20 years suspended and 10 years probation upon release. Smith will be eligible for parole on his 50th birthday.
“To think about the way that he loved me and our family and my kids, it breaks my heart to know that we never got to say goodbye to him,” Horace-Wright’s older sister said while addressing the court. “None of this was meant to happen. He didn’t deserve that, he didn’t do anything wrong.”