ORANGE - An Orange County jury took fifteen minutes Wednesday morning to find a man guilty of beating his elderly mother and then sentenced him to prison later in the afternoon.
John Wesley Smith was found guilty of felony injury to an elderly person after prosecutors said in closing arguments that his claims of self-defense were "absolutely ludicrous."
He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to 69 years in prison.
The state prosecutor requested a 69-year sentence because Smith's mother, Wanda, had celebrated her 69th birthday two days before she was assaulted.
Wesley Smith, his daughters Candace Harvill and Kathy Pitman were overcome with emotions after Smith was sentenced.
"Nobody knows what it's like when your son is going to prison for as long as he is and knowing your wife might not ever recover," Smith told us following the sentencing.
Smith says he still visits his wife every day in the nursing home where she currently lives. Wanda Smith has not returned home since the assault.
Wesley Smith says this was a difficult week for his whole family.
"I have love for my son, but when a person crosses that line, there is consequences. And that's when the judicial system decides," Smith said.
Smith thinks that this trial brings light to a bigger issue of elderly abuse.
"The sad thing about it is it just hasn't happened to us, it's happened to so many other people and I really care for them too,"
Smith plans to continue taking care of his wife.
John Smith says that he plans to appeal the jury's decision.
In testimony earlier this week, John Smith admitted during testimony that he hit his 69-year-old mother but claimed it was in self-defense.
On the stand Smith said his mother threatened to stab him with a butcher knife and testified that he was in fear for his life.
He testified that he felt the use of force against his mother was justified.
During a recorded interview with Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators that was shown to jurors he said that his mother bit his fingers and would not let go.
He said he asked her to let go but said she bit down harder and he hit no more than four or five times to get her attention.
He said that he had never seen a person's face as bruised as his mother's after he hit her and then left the house and then called 911.
He also told investigators that his mother was his best friend and his world and at one point said "I have a great mother."
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