Man Who Shot Mother of His Child by the Side of Hwy 1 Pled Guilty to Murder Today

This is a press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office. 

crowningshieldA defendant in a Mendocino Coast murder case changed his plea to guilty on Friday, averting a scheduled preliminary hearing in Mendocino County Superior Court.

Andrew Curtis Crowningshield, age 27, of Little River, entered guilty pleas to the willful, premeditated and deliberate murder of Autumn Renee Smith, age 22, of Fort Bragg, on Feb. 4, 2018, along Highway 1 in Little River. He also admitted as true that he intentionally used a 9mm handgun, discharging same multiple times causing the death of the victim. The defendant and victim had a young child together.

As required by the District Attorney, the defendant also stipulated to a state prison sentence of 50 years to life (25 years to life for the first-degree murder plus a consecutive 25 years to life for his personal and intentional use of the firearm causing death).

The defendant’s matter was referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a background report.

The 50-to-life sentence will be formally imposed on June 7 at 9 a.m. in Department B in the Ukiah courthouse. Anybody interested in this case or this defendant is welcome to attend and watch that proceeding.

The prosecutor handling the case is DA David Eyster. The investigating law enforcement agency responsible for gathering and piecing together all the evidence against the defendant was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield accepted the defendant’s change of plea this morning. Judge Mayfield will also be the sentencing judge on June 7.

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  • I just can’t fathom what’s makes a person kill in cold blood let alone the mother of his child .poor child lost both parents that day so sad .

    • Emotions, anger hate and jealousy are strong! some can keep them in check others not so much. I fell so bad for that kid I hope they rest of the family can give it the love and affection it needs.

      • Add meth and it’s ten fold the problem.

        • yes the meth, but remember according to the “freedom club” post – the poor unfortunate soul was just born with the wrong brain!

          • I know that shit drives me nuts 🥜

          • Wow thanks for the shout out in a totally unrelated thread! I am just curious if you have a better logical argument to make or you just prefer to mock? Maybe he is evil and satan infested his brain? I agree having people like this roaming around society pose a threat to the safety of others, but this man didn’t choose to be born into this world. I can’t imagine that he chose to be the type of person who would let his emotions get the best of him and wind him up in such a terrible situation. I think many here are misunderstanding what I am saying. I am not saying that he has no responsibility and should just be let free. I just don’t use terms like labeling someone evil because they have slightly defective hardware. Those of us that have more fully functioning brains should just consider ourselves fortunate that we were born with such. The fact that I was born with the brain I have and not one like Jeffery Dahmer I can be thankful for, but can take zero credit for.

            • It is a related thread. It’s about calling a criminal a criminal, and not making excuses that he’s a mental health patient because he isn’t responsible for his brain.

              • I am not arguing that. He committed the crime of murder therefore by definition he is a criminal. I am just curious as to who among us is responsible for our brains? I am certainly not responsible for mine. I did not choose to be born into this world and I played no role in developing the inner workings or chemicals that go on inside my skull. I have never been convicted of a crime in my entire life. I can’t take credit for having the brain I was born with any more than the psychopath can be blamed for the flaws in his hardware. Do you blame autistic kids for being born with a brain that is wired differently than most of the population? Do you give credit to geniuses as if they were the architect of their own mind?

                I don’t say that this guy should be given a total pass. Society has determined that what this man had done is not something to be accepted and for better or worse he is going to have to face the consequences. I agree that he did not handle things in the best way, but I don’t hold him responsible for creating himself this way. I have yet to meet anyone with that amazing of a power. People have this allusion that we are somehow the architects of our own existence, that is just not a belief I have found any credible scientific data to back up. I am probably just way ahead of my time here, but I am pretty confident that as we research this further eventually our society will move towards a more honest understanding of people and how the human brain works. As a species we have moved past many foolish beliefs that were commonly held throughout society. That is called progress and evolution.

                • So people that spend decades going to school trying to educate themselves to become things like rocket scientist and brain surgeons can’t take any credit for their brain? They were just born with that intelligence and knowledge, it wasn’t because of the Life Choices they made throughout their life? What about people like Helen Keller who were born with all kinds of difficulties, but through their own perseverance, educated themselves and became better people.

                  You argue that people are just born a certain way and that you can’t reprogram their brains, but then you turn around and say that Rehabilitation is the right answer instead of incarceration or labeling them as evil. If you can’t reprogram their brain, how are you going to rehabilitate them?

                  And what exactly is your definition of evil or is that just some made up label that actually has no meaning?

                • Trying to turn this man into a victim of his own biology smacks of a self indulgent apologist. He certainly knew what he was doing and put himself right there to do it. There were a thousand alternative strategies to cope with his own problems before he arrived at murder.

                  If he was really unable to control himself, he had the opportunity to fight endless numbers of large males with his fists. Instead he chose to shoot a woman. Someone it was safe for him to confront. That seems like a person chosing soft, safe targets and therefore a person who actually can control themselves.

                  I have heard that sorry excuse so many times. “I can’t control my temper” when the only person getting attacked are those unable to defend themselves. In a room full of people who could defend themselves, he would be careful not to lose his precious temper.

                • THC and guest, you are misinterpreting my point. Where did I say you cannot reprogram a brain? I am saying that we need to study the brain more so that we can reprogram it and help these people. If we can get more people help earlier then maybe we won’t have to wait for instances like this to happen before we realize there is a problem.

                  To the point about about rocket scientists and brain surgeons I think that people highly educated in specific fields should be looked up to as having a certain expertise. And with that people might value their knowledge more. I don’t see how they can take any credit for having the brain they have as even the thoughts that occur in one are controlled by many variables, none of which can be tied back to this imaginary concept of self. I just don’t see any good solid evidence that we are even the one in control of our own thoughts. They are complex chemical signals determined by the way all of the molecules together happened to be aligned in the universe at any given time. Life is so much more random that your average person has any concept of. It has been drilled into our heads for generation after generation that we have this concept of self and free will. Science is coming for that antiquated way of thinking and eventually it will go the way of the dodo bird. For the record I do understand why many people not well versed in the subject would want to hold onto these cherished beliefs. I am not holding it against people who were educated to believe that. I am merely trying to expose people to an alternate view point of how to look at reality.

                • And we should feel lucky you only post opinions on here and not from behind a desk at some position within the legal system

              • Both can be true.

            • Well fine, if you put it that way..

          • O right My bad. That would be discrimination. Dam foiled again.

  • Well, according to a post on another article, he should be given the chance for rehab because (I quote) “Nobody is responsible for the brain they have or the way it is wired”. Great quote for a defense attorney to try and use!! Good for him admitting he screwed up.

  • Veteran's Friend

    I salute his courage & humility. He has a hard road ahead.
    It is not an easy thing to plead guilty. He had to tell the court his story. It is not just a simple matter of saying “guilty” and sitting back down.

  • Who the heck pleads guilty and accepts 50 years to life?! Who was his lawyer?!! I’d be trying to pull off any story possible, at least setting up enough question for an appeal later. Not that I kill people but this does not make sense…seems like there is more we are not hearing about

    • Perhaps he has a conscience.

    • Finally doing what’s right, usually it’s what keeps the death penalty off the table but idk in this case.

      • Rotting away in prison for 50 years won’t do anyone a bit of good. We either need to determine if he can be rehabilitated and work towards that, or if not the death penalty would be a better option and using those resources to help rehabilitate others who need it. A 50 year punishment will accomplish absolutely nothing. People locked away in that environment that long have a very very slim chance of being anything worth while if and when they are finally released. Chances are he will be so indoctrinated into convict life that he will do something to be sent right back to what will be his new comfort zone. Just like the old librarian guy who hung himself in the Shawshank Redemption.

        • A 50 year punishment is for his crime…. not rehabilitation. Some crimes like murder we shouldn’t look at a prison sentence for rehab, it is pure punishment. If we could give this guy a pill that ensured he would never commit a crime again I wouldn’t want him out in society- he already committed murder, lock him up or euthanize him.

          • You wouldn’t even want him out even in he was totally cured? Thats a pretty sad outlook. What exactly does punishment accomplish? It won’t bring back any of the victims no matter how long he sits in a quite expensive prison cell funded by us.

            • Some crimes are inexcusable; like murder. Bringing back the victim is besides the point… rehabilitation is not necessary for people who commit inexcusable crimes. Lethal punishment and long term prison sentences are expensive it’s a burden we all, monetarily, live with.

            • Most of the time punishment is not for the person who committed the crime per se, It’s more for people who might commit crimes later. so someone who’s thinking about shooting their wife on the side of the road sees this man locked up for the rest of his life, might think twice about shooting their wife, they would think harder on it if we hung the SOB on the county courthouse steps and left his body to rot in the hot sun for a few weeks. But if the same man who’s thinking about shooting his wife on the side of the road sees that this man is Let off with rehabilitation. He just might start thinking to himself G, there’s hardly any consequences for murdering your wife on the side of the road so I might as well do it. Seriously, if you have a dog that mauls a kid to death right in front of you, even if the dog has gone through “Rehabilitation” are you ever going to trust the dog around kids again? And who should be responsible if the dog does mauls aother kid to death?

              But you forget, the dog has no control over its brain chemistry. Therefore is not responsible for its brain nor can it be reprogrammed, so how the heck are you going to “rehabilitate” it?

              • That’s an easy one. I simply keep kids away from my dog. As for you defense of punishment as a deterrent, that might be your strongest point so far. I do see some slight validity to that for things like drinking and driving, but the people who are in the state of mind to commit murder I am sure their brain is not functioning in a way to process thoughts about actions and consequences. They are likely being overrun by out of control emotion. All the more reason to educate people how to be more mentally healthy instead of so much of the BS that goes on in schools today.

        • He killed someone’s mother, daughter and maybe sister. He destroyed a family for life. 50 years isn’t supposed to do anything but make him pay for his crime. If that was my daughter, 50 years in prison [edit] still wouldn’t be enough punishment. Society is fortunate you are not a judge, DA or prosecutor.

          • Your thirst for blood is really antiquated and barbaric thinking. Driven by emotion rather than looking at the situation logically. Would you have this much anger towards a spider that bit and killed your daughter, or is it just reserved for apes?

            • Comparing the instinctive, defensive survival actions of a spider to a planned, willful, intentional thought out premeditated murder. Unbelievable !!!!!

              • You just don’t seem to get it. Who creates these so called intentional thoughts you speak of? They must arise from something and surely that something is not designed by some magic little person inside the skull directing traffic. Not one person in this thread has provided one shred of evidence that a person is any more responsible for the thoughts that pop in his head than they are for what weather they wake up to in the morning. I understand why people would want to propagate the concept of free will, I just don’t see any good scientific evidence to merit it.

    • He did it in cold blood…. Sounds fair, considering execution was a viable option

    • First, guilty is guilty, especially after having tracked him down as he fled the coast over to Glenn County, the Sheriff detectives exacted a recorded confession in gruesome detail to the crime. Second, he was charged with special circumstances. His plea today saved him from life without any possibility of parole or worse. Finally, his two attorneys are quite experienced and the legal advice he received was more than likely quite sound.

  • Life is good OG

    It’s rare but he owned up. Will help his karma. Good luck

  • Rotting away for 50 years means they are so old when released that they are unlikely to have the energy to re-offend. At 77 I think we have no reason to be afraid of this one anymore…

    • This guy already killed someone’s kid. The fact that he probably won’t reoffend is besides the point. Murder deserves a life sentence or the death penalty.

      • The fact of someones likeliness to reoffend should have everything to do with their sentence. If it is all about keeping the public safe. Not one single person in this thread advocating life in prison has yet to explain exactly what positive effect punishment provides society. To me it sounds like an emotional reaction, but if there is a logical fact based argument behind it I am listening…

        • As if there is a way to accurately say who will “re offend.” As in murder again.

          • Maybe as a society we should invest more resources towards understanding and learning about this. If the health of our species is of any importance to you.

            • That’s representative of a bad case of magical thinking- that with more study a cure will be found. A realist looks at the history of science and sees that every time the belief increases that “the answer” is found what real shows up is the next level of complexity. Scientific research is generally a good but is not a magic wand. It will proceed and people can be lead by it. However, you can not choose where it will lead. That is the magical part of your statements.

              If you really believe what you say rather than wanting to “punish” other posters for contradicting you, you would not bother to try to correct their chemically set thinking. In that world view, their beliefs and resulting actions are just as set as the murderer you prefer to excuse.

              The very fact that such creatures as this man can restrain himself when he sees danger to himself and doesn’t when he thinks he can safely attack means that he is quite capable of self regulation when it suits, whether that is a straight chemical reaction or not.

              • How have I once tried to “punish” other posters? I am trying to explain another way to view human conciseness. I am not arguing that actions are already set like as in some type of determinism. People are capable of learning and changing the way they think, but I still see no evidence that we can possibly be responsible for the origin of the thoughts that pop into our head. Trust me I don’t think that we are on the verge of some magic cure all. I think there is a lot to be learned about the human brain and the more we pursue that the healthier society we can create. There will always be defective hardware and software systems and incidents like this happen. I accept that as the cost of doing business. Life is not without risk and just like it is foolish to get mad at a hurricane for destroying a village in it’s path I find it silly to hold someone responsible for the fact that nature created him with some slight glitches.

        • Without any punishments and consequences for your negative actions, we would be back in the wild, wild west days. Imagine knowing you could walk into a bank, demand $200,000 and know there was no punishment for doing it except probation and rehab for a few years? What about kids knowing they could beat up another kid in school and not have to go to the principals office to serve a punishment/consequence? Consequences and punishments are established to deter people from breaking the established rules and laws. People who do not adhere to those rules and laws deserve to serve a punishment to fit the ‘action’. That’s why running a red light is a only monetary fine, and 1st degree murder is a prison sentence. People get off prison sentences all the time if declared truly mentally ill and incompetent, which is determined by professionals in a court hearing; then sent to special facilities.

        • freedom club- the positive effect of a life sentence or death penalty is that the offender will no longer exist in society and also give closure to some families. I personally believe in revenge. I believe in punishment and rehabilitation. But I don’t think rehab is needed in murder cases.

          • I also believe in emotional reactions, especially logical emotional reactions. Like wanting a harsh punishment for a murder someone committed.

            • I truly feel pity for people that are ruled by emotions rather than a logical view of the world. Knowing that actually helps me understand why you believe the things you do. Changing the minds of the existing apes on this planet is a daunting task. Most likely those old ways of thinking will have to die out naturally and hopefully as we become more educated on the subject the views of the citizens will change along with the new findings.

              • Thank you Mr Spock.

              • The only one ruled by their emotions was the murderer in this case. It’s not illogical to want justice for a crime committed. It’s illogical not to seek punishment. That’s exactly why we have jail sentences and fines and the death penalty. Ps. This isn’t an old way of think it’s a logical way of thinking. It takes emotion, reason, and justice into account. It takes the severity of the crime into account. There are some crimes that are inexcusable and should be punished as such.

                • Well then I guess I feel pity for Andrew as well as the people having emotional hate towards him. Like I said earlier this way of thinking might eventually die out like many other things we have evolved past. It is pretty clear you have your mind made up on the issue and there is no convincing you to look at it a different way. There is only so much I can share with a person posting as “guest”. I hope for your sake all this anger and resentment you have towards fellow apes isn’t impeding you from being the best person you can be.

                • It isn’t impeding at all. In fact, im not calling other people apes. “Freedom club”

                • Apes isn’t a bad term I find it rather an accurate description. What term do you prefer? Are you one of those folks that think somehow humans are so much more special or important than other species of mammals?

                • I prefer human or person.

                  Since we have the ability to care for all other species, I do think we are special.


    I can’t afford to pay taxes on his cell for 50 years while paying taxes on all of the pro-welfare-moms around here and road repairs that never get done.

    It seems even more psycho to kill the young mother of your child,than these serial killers that get the injection.
    Get this fool of the planet.

    So sorry for that kid.

  • This is a slam-dunk. He’s admitted taking the life of a human-being. A one week review by an appeals panel and at the conclusion, after verifying his constitutional rights were observed, straight to the green room.

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