Oscar Smith, Tennessee


Updated: Monday, February 1, 2021

Oscar Franklin Smith was scheduled to be executed at 7:10 pm local time, on Thursday, February 4, 2021, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. His execution has been stayed.  Seventy-year-old Oscar is convicted of murdering his estranged wife, 35-year-old Judy Robirds Smith, and her two sons, 13-year-old Jason Burnett and 16-year-old Chad Burnett on October 1, 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Oscar has spent the last 20 years on Tennessee's death row.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ordered that the execution of Oscar be stayed, pending further order of the court.  The stay was granted over concerns about increasing cases of COVID-19.  The state did not file a response objecting to the request for the stay, leading to the Tennessee Supreme Court granting the requested stay of execution. 

On October 1, 1989, around 11:20 pm, the police in Tennessee received an emergency call from the home of Judy Smith. Police officers arrive at her home approximately five minutes later. They were unable to see or hear anything unusual. A knock to the front door went unanswered, and police assumed it was a false call.

The next afternoon, the bodies of Judy Smith, estranged wife of Oscar Smith, and her two sons, Oscar’s step-sons, Jason and Chad, were found dead inside the home. A medical examiner determined that they had died at least 12 hours prior to their bodies being found.

Oscar was picked up by the police later that day. Oscar never asked why he was being questioned and referred to his wife in the past tense, prior to the police officers telling him about her death. Oscar alleged that he had spent October 1 with Judy, leaving around 9:30 pm, and taking their twin boys back to his home, and then driving to Kentucky for an early morning meeting with a client. However, a neighbor reported that they saw Oscar’s vehicle outside of Judy’s home around 11 pm. During his interview with the police, Oscar showed no emotion and had abrasions on his hand, elbow, back, and shoulder blade.


During Oscar’s trial, the initial emergency call was enhanced and Judy can be heard shouting “Frank, no. God, help me!” before the call abruptly ends. Additionally, the police had found a bloody handprint on the sheet next to Judy’s body. The handprint was later identified as matching Oscar’s handprint, with two missing middle fingers. Oscar had also recently taken out life insurance policies on Judy, Jason, and Chad. Finally, Oscar had, prior to the murders, made several, repeated threats to kill and commit other acts of violence against the victims, including asking a coworker to murder Judy, Chad, and Jason, and offering to pay them.


Oscar’s execution has been rescheduled to February 4, 2021, after his lawyers filed an appeal, claiming that coronavirus pandemic interfered with their ability to work on the case and prepare a clemency hearing for Oscar, before his initial execution date of June 4, 2020.


Please pray for peace for the family of Judy, Chad, and Jason. Please pray for strength for the family of Oscar. Pray that if Oscar is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Pray that Oscar may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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