Man accused of fatally shooting pregnant girlfriend after holding ‘joyful gender reveal party’ sentenced

Francis Akhalbey March 07, 2024
Maurice Kelso Smith killed Darionne Burley a month after they held a gender reveal party, authorities said -- Left photo credit: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office | Right photo credit: Gregory W. Spencer Funeral Directors

A 32-year-old Texas man was on Monday sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was found guilty of fatally shooting his pregnant 26-year-old girlfriend just a month after they held a “joyful gender reveal party.”

According to Law & Crime, the suspect, identified as Maurice Kelso Smith, and his deceased girlfriend Darionne Burley were expecting twin boys before he shot and killed her on June 29, 2020. Their unborn children also did not survive the shooting. 

In a statement, the Tarrant County District Attorney said Burley and the unborn babies died immediately after Smith shot her in the back of the head. The shooting is said to have happened after the couple were spotted leaving a Waffle House restaurant in Fort Worth.

In the wake of the shooting, authorities said Smith, in his attempt to flee, robbed a woman of her car at gunpoint after driving to Mansfield. The convicted man is said to have ditched his car at the robbery scene, and officers who arrived there found Burley in a “bloody crime scene”, the statement said.

Authorities ultimately located Smith at his address trying to clean the stolen car and also destroy evidence linked to the murder. The police also got to know Smith had “committed another attempted robbery in that location as well”, adding that the items authorities recovered included the convicted man’s bloodied clothes as well as the murder weapon.

Authorities also determined the murder weapon was illegally purchased a day before the fatal incident. “Despite having a joyful gender reveal party in May, the jury heard evidence that Smith had assaulted Burley in early June and was using drugs heavily at this time,” the statement said.

Kate Hinojosa, who is a prosecutor, told the court that Burley’s family and friends in June 2020 became “concerned for her safety and it turns out their concerns were valid because at the end of the month she would be dead at the hands of this Defendant.”

The jury was also informed that Smith in the wake of his arrest was taken to JPS by Medstar for many hours to treat a suspected overdose – though “evidence showed he was faking his intoxication and memory lapse.”

“After trying to pick his handcuff lock in the hospital and being sternly warned by police, the reality set in for him that he had murdered his girlfriend and two babies and was going to be facing the ultimate consequence,” Allena Bangs said. 

The deceased woman’s family addressed Smith in statements after the verdict, telling the convicted man that there were “no winners here.” They also touched on “what life could have been for Darionne and their family” if he had not killed her. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 7, 2024


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