SAN ANTONIO – After a month on the run that ended with a shootout with members of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and a three year wait for trial, Rudy Smith, 39, made a surprise guilty plea as jury selection was set to begin.
Smith, who was critically wounded during the shootout, was in court Tuesday morning.
He was charged with capital murder in Ruben Sanchez’s slaying and aggravated assault on a public servant in connection with the shootout.
Smith was wanted for killing Sanchez a month earlier while he was allegedly trying to steal the victim's car.
As jury selection was about to begin, Smith opted to plead guilty to the assault charge and to a reduced charge of murder in Sanchez's murder in what is called an "open plea."
“Because it is an open plea, that means I can sentence you to anywhere from the sentencing range of 15 to 99 years of life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, do you understand that?”, District Judge Jefferson Moore asked Smith in court.
“Yes, sir,” Smith replied to the judge.
The minimum sentence is 25 years rather than the standard five years for a first-degree felony because Smith has an extensive criminal record and is considered a repeat offender in the eyes of the law.
“In each case, I’m going to order a pre-sentencing report and we will come back at another day for sentencing,” Moore told Smith.
The judge will assess punishment for Smith, more than likely in December.