MENDOCINO Co., 4/6/18 — Andrew Crowningshield, 27, pled guilty to the murder of Autumn Renee Smith, 22, the mother of their child, today in Mendocino Superior Court. Crowningshield killed Smith, also known as Autumn Johnson, near Little River on Feb. 4, 2018, after following her down Hwy. 1. Their child is three years old.
According to the terms of the plea agreement, Crowningshield will be formally sentenced to 50 years in prison at his sentencing hearing on June 7. According to the district attorney’s office, Crowningshield changed his plea to guilty recently, in advance of a scheduled preliminary hearing.
Crowningshield admits to having tailed a vehicle containing Smith and a friend, Daniel Alonso, 35, of Fort Bragg,, after they passed him going southbound on Highway 1 in the Caspar area. Alonso told authorities that after the two pulled over to discuss custody arrangements for the three year old child of Smith and Crowningshield, Crowningshield approached the vehicle and began to fire on Smith and possibly Alonso as well. Smith died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds from a 9mm handgun before paramedics could arrive. Crowningshield fled the area, and was initially suspected of having taken the child with him. However, after a multi-agency search, he was later found and arrested by authorities in Glenn County on the morning of Feb. 5, after which he was transported to Mendocino County jail and held without bail. See the Mendo Voice’s previous coverage here.
Today, during what was scheduled to be a preliminary hearing, multiple family members and friends of Smith wept in the courtroom as Crowningshield pled guilty. Pursuant to the deal he will receive two 25 year sentences in state prison for charges of murder in the first degree and discharging a firearm resulting in Smith’s death. This deal is contingent on there being no changes to the case between now and the sentencing hearing on June 7. Crowningshield will be sentenced to 50 years in state prison, after which he will be on parole for life and forbidden from purchasing or possessing a firearm. He will only be eligible to receive 15% in credit towards a reduced prison sentence due to the serious nature of the charges, and waived his right to a sentencing trial within 20 days. The case was prosecuted District Attorney David Eyster, Crowningshield was represented by attorney Victoria Shanahan, and Judge Cyndee Mayfield presided over the hearing.
Kate B. Maxwell, firstname.lastname@example.org.