HARDEMAN COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Testimony in the murder trial of a Houston man found guilty of shooting a woman in the head at a Quanah travel center indicated the pair had run out of money and had a sometimes tumultuous relationship.
A jury in Quanah Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, deliberated about an hour before finding Armond Smith guilty of the murder of 18-year-old Anaja Griffin-McNeal, then assessed a 75-year prison sentence. Smith faced a maximum of 99 years or life.
On Jan. 15, 2021, a customer at the Love’s Travel Center saw blood coming from a Dodge Charger in the parking lot. A deputy opened the door to find a woman dead from a gunshot wound to the head, and Smith with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
During treatment in the emergency room, paramedics say Smith was talking and admitted shooting McNeal.
Authorities say the pair had been vacationing in New Mexico and ran out of money in Quanah on the way home to Houston, and had been seen the day before asking for help to buy gas.
Testimony pointed to a rocky relationship, and a friend of the victim testified McNeal made a frantic call to her two months earlier and said she was afraid of Smith.
During the trial, McNeal’s father testified his daughter had a passion for helping others in need, and in high school in Minneapolis organized a coat drive for the homeless.
She was a student at Houston Community College.
46th District Attorney Staley Heatly, who prosecuted the case, says McNeal is one of 169 women killed by an intimate partner in Texas in 2021.