Foster pleads guilty in 2011 double murder

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

A circuit judge sentenced a Troy man to two consecutive life sentences Tuesday after he pled guilty to two counts of felony murder in June relating back to a 2011 killing.

John Foster, 26, of Troy, was the last of four suspects to be convicted in the April 4, 2011 killing of Mark Adams and Carla Smilie at a residence in Needmore.

Jon Folmar, assistant district attorney, said prosecutors consulted with the families of the victims about the allowing the plea down to felony murder charges before moving forward.

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“They didn’t want to endure the delay of another capital murder trial because it would have been delayed even faurther, so they agreed to allow a blind plea on the two counts of felony murder,” Folmar said.

Folmar explained that a “blind plea” is a plea made without a deal being made, leaving the judge to ultimately decide the sentencing.

Circuit Judge Shannon Clark sentenced Foster in line with the prosecution’s request– two consecutive life sentences.

Folmar said Foster cannot be considered for parole until he has served 20 years.

“I think there’s a very strong likelihood he’ll never step foot a free man again,” said District Attorney Tom Anderson.

From the very beginning of the court process, prosecutors have pointed toward Foster as the connection to Adams.

“John and Mark were friends,” Anderson said. “Mark would help John with his child and give him odd jobs.”

The night of the murder, Foster was with three friends: Brandon Ryles, of Brundidge, Marquisse McClaney, of Troy, and Troy McClaney, of Union Springs.

All four men were initially charged with capital murder and facing the death penalty.

Folmar said the four men were riding around in that night when Foster asked to be taken to Adams’ residence.

“It’s kind of a remote area,” Folmar said. “Foster was the only person of the four that knew where Mark Adams lived.”

A key piece of evidence put Foster inside the residence at the time of the murder.

Landlord Linda Blake had left her dog in Adams’ called to check on the dog that night. Adams handed the phone to Foster, placing Foster at the scene of the crime.

Blake and her neighbor Charles Green came for the dog the next day and found Adams and Smilie dead.

Anderson said Adams was shot in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun and Foster then picked up a rifle and began to fire it towards Smilie.

Folmar said Ryles is suspected to be the other “primary shooter or stabber” in the incident. Ryles, the only defendant to stand trial, was convicted of two felony counts of murder September 15, 2014.

Prosecutors don’t believe the McClaneys ever entered the house, Anderson said, but knew what Foster was doing there.

Both McClaneys pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder. Anderson said prosecutors believe Troy McClaney never left the car. He was sentenced to 25 years of which five were spent in prison and the other 20 are to be spent on probation.

Foster had originally reached a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against the other defendants, but refused to testify at Marquisse McClaney’s trial. Folmar said that forced prosecutors to make a plea deal with Marquisse. Foster’s deal was to serve 53 years in prison.

Marquisse McClaney was sentenced to two consecutive 25-year sentences.