Escaped Georgia inmate wanted in Lakeland man’s homicide found dead

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GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An inmate who deputies say escaped from a Georgia prison and killed a Lakeland man this week was found dead overnight.

A post on the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page says 25-year-old Stephen Michael Smith was spotted by deputies and the U.S. Marshals Task Force late Tuesday night driving on U.S. Highway 98 in Bay County.

Authorities stopped him at an intersection to take him into custody. But as law enforcement surrounded the vehicle, deputies say Smith died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Smith had been wanted for the homicide of 30-year-old Daniel Lee Upton of Lakeland. Smith was also wanted for absconding from a work-release program out of Georgia, where he was serving a sentence for robbery.

Gulf County deputies say Smith shot and killed Upton in the St. Joe Beach area Monday morning. A post from the sheriff’s office on Tuesday said based on evidence and interviews, the shooting was believed to be the result of a drug deal gone bad.

Deputies arrested 44-year-old Destiny Jene Terry on Tuesday in connection with the incident. In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office said, “Although she is not the shooter, the investigation revealed she was present during the shooting and helped facilitate the contact between Smith and Upton.”

Terry was arrested and charged with principal to second-degree murder.

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