In episode 202 of Starz Wrong Man, Vonda Smith’s claims about a white van come under scrutiny. Also, she reveals more unexpected information.
In the season 2 premiere, Wrong Man examined the case of Vonda Smith, a grandmother accused of brutally murdering her grandson’s mother, Jessie Morrison, in Greeneville, Tennessee in 2018. Episode 202 pays a lot of attention to Vonda’s blood-stained car seats. Wrong Man’s investigator Joe Kennedy mentions that, in this case, investigators seemed to have tunnel vision.
After seeing the bloodstains in Vonda Smith’s vehicle, not enough other leads were followed. In fact, Civil Rights Attorney Ronald Ruby says she could not have murdered Morrison. Wrong Man‘s team also notes how meth use is common to Greeneville.
At the same time, no one’s saying Vonda Smith is necessarily 100% innocent. Jessie’s mother, Tammy, believes Vonda is guilty but that she also had help. After a motion for a new trial is overruled, Kuby and company find it still important to explore the case. Also curious is the white van that Vonda Smith mentioned during her initial interview.
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According to her, someone in the van is linked to the murder — or at least returned Vonda’s vehicle stained with Jessie’s blood. Smith also claims that, when she set out to investigate the murder herself, two guys pulled her over, beat her up and threw her off the North Wesley Chapel Road Bridge! Interestingly, though, “Wrong Man” shows us the bridge, suggesting that she would have certainly been injured had she been thrown off of it. Ron Kuby suggests there is no evidence supporting Vonda’s story.
Ron Kuby calls Vonda / Investigating domestic violence claims
Kuby speaks to Vonda on the phone. She says that Jessie Morrison left between 4:30 and 5 PM and that the white car and van showed up at around 6. She adds that she saw someone who looked like Jessie’s boyfriend, Gary Ealey.
However, Ealey was clocked in at work from 3 to 7:30 pm. Wrong Man notes that being clocked in doesn’t necessarily mean he was present at work. Wrong Man‘s Private Investigator, Chrystal Waltz, looks a little into Ealey’s history of domestic violence allegations, by interviewing Amber Hammond, one of his former girlfriends. She claims he pressed her face to a windshield, adding that Jessie was quiet and always looked downward as an abused person might.
Detroit Homicide Detective Ira Todd visits Gary and asks him about returning Vonda’s car. He denies it. He also says he wouldn’t have hurt Jessie, believing that she was carrying his baby. After the murder, he actually was investigated, which included assessing his DNA and searching his house.
There were also no scars or injuries indicating a struggle, even though Jessie is known to have fought back against her attacker. Gary thinks Vonda knows what happened but that she didn’t kill Jessie. Nobody on the Wrong Man team thinks Gary killed Jessie, and there’s no indication he’s hiding anything about the murder.
The white van and the septic tank
Ron Kuby thinks Vonda intentionally planted the notion about Gary. However, Vonda may have told the truth about a white van. Another witness, Jason Matthews, maintains that he also saw a white van at 5:30. In fact, during the trial itself, JD Ealey, Gary’s father, testified that he was in Dudley Hudson’s white van. Vonda says that Hudson knew her son, William. JD and Dudley had a shared alibi, claiming that they were working on the septic tank of Mable Hudson (Dudley’s mother). When Wrong Man asks her about it, she denies they worked on the tank, adding that “JD is bad news.” So why wasn’t this alibi investigated more thoroughly?
The blood in the car
Another big question: How could Vonda not see Jessie’s blood in her car? Why that is not definitely answered, Vonda says she thinks it was planted. Wrong Man turns to blood spatter expert Johnny Lawrence. He uses Leuco Crystal Violet, which reveals the outline of a forearm on the armrest, which shows in the “hidden blood” with shocking clarity. He concludes that there is a lot of blood on the passenger seat and that it was not staged.
There are indications of cleanup, such as bleach used after the murder. On that note, Ira Todd re-interrogates Vonda Smith face-to-face. With some persistence, he gets her to say that it was her son, William, who returned the car! To complicate things, this doesn’t even mean William was necessarily guilty, as returning the car doesn’t directly link him to the murder.
Ira interviews William Smith
Things get awkward when Ira Todd interviews William Smith. He indicates a memory lapse, adding that he doesn’t remember if he was on meth or not. He also cuts the interview short. However, he does accompany Todd to the murder dumpsite and denies getting into any white van. He seems surprised to hear the recent recording of Vonda pointing at him.
When Rod Smith (Vonda’s husband), hears Vonda’s confession about William, he seems overwhelmed. William tells him, “I had nothing to do with this, I promise.” Wrong Man indicates that, although Vonda likely lied about Gary, William may have answers.
Brittney Brown, William’s ex, says William was shocked when he heard about the murder, and that he asked what she got herself into. Ron Kuby concludes that Vonda could not have killed her, at least not alone. There had to have been at least one other person involved. It’s definitely an interesting case, complete with missing DNA analysis and a mysterious white van. It’s concluded that Vonda should be on trial for what she actually did.
What are your thoughts on Wrong Man and the Vonda Smith case? Let us know in the comments!