Lancaster inmate serving life for killing adoptive parents in 2001 gets new sentence

LANCASTER — An inmate at Lancaster County Prison already serving consecutive life terms for murdering his adoptive parents in 2001 had his sentence changed to 80 years to life Friday at a re-sentencing hearing in Lancaster County Court.

According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, Michael Bourgeois, 33, had a new sentence issued by Lancaster County Judge David Ashworth. He was back in court for re-sentencing due to the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared life sentences against juveniles unconstitutional.

Bourgeois was 17 years old when he killed his adoptive parents, Lucy and Terry Smith, in their Ephrata home.

 

Judge Ashworth, while ordering sentence, said he considered Bourgeois’ age at the time of the crimes – about 17 ½ years – but said Bourgeois’ “chilling, depraved and heinous acts” must also be considered.

“Youth matters,” Judge Ashworth said, “but so do the lives of the victims.”

Bourgeois and a co-defendant, Landon May, tortured the Smiths for hours inside their Sand Court home before they died.

Bourgeois testified for about an hour Friday, saying he did not know right from wrong and was “coerced” into committing the crimes by May and other individuals he was hanging around at the time.

Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson, on cross examination, revealed that was not the truth.

Anderson’s questioning prompted Bourgeois to admit he knew killing someone and committing other crimes were wrong.

Bourgeois told police after the murders, as Anderson pointed out, the murder plot was his idea.

“I decided I wanted to get rid of them,” Bourgeois told police in a 2002 interview.

Anderson took Bourgeois through the grisly torture and killings, at one point asking Bourgeois which side of a hammer he used to bludgeon his mother.

“Both,” Bourgeois said, looking down.

What happened when Lucy Smith begged for her life? Anderson asked Bourgeois.

“I still ended up killing her,” Bourgeois replied.

Anderson called Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman to testify. Stedman, as assistant district attorney then, prosecuted Bourgeois and May, and conducted that 2002 interview with Bourgeois.

Of that interview, Stedman described Bourgeois’ demeanor as “flat” and “cold.”

“It stood out to me and stands out to me to this day,” Stedman testified, saying Bourgeois described the crimes matter-of-factly, as if recollecting a commute to work.

Stedman called the crimes’ impact on Lancaster County as “monumental.”

“It terrorized the community,” Stedman testified. “To this day I feel the emotions. It rocked Lancaster County.”

Bourgeois will get credit for the prison time he has served, meaning he would likely get a parole hearing in about 64 years.