Two Drug Dealers Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of Federal Witness

Two drug dealers sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a federal witness. Read the shocking details of the case that highlights the consequences of witness tampering.

In a significant victory for justice, two drug dealers, Samuel “Big Hit” Sherman and Donald Bill Smith, have been sentenced to life in federal prison for their involvement in the murder of a federal witness. The defendants conspired to cause witness tampering resulting in death, with the victim being Susan Cooper, who had previously purchased methamphetamine from Sherman and had started acting as an informant for law enforcement. The sentencing comes after a lengthy trial that revealed shocking details about the defendants’ actions, including the planned drug exchange that turned into a brutal murder. This case highlights the grave consequences of witness tampering and the commitment of law enforcement to hold perpetrators accountable, ensuring the safety and integrity of the justice system.

Two Drug Dealers Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of Federal Witness

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In a landmark case that has sent shockwaves through the criminal justice system, two drug dealers have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a federal witness. Samuel “Big Hit” Sherman, from Batesville, and Donald Bill Smith, from Malvern, were convicted of conspiring to cause witness tampering resulting in death. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the case, including background information, details of the crime, the discovery of the victim’s body, the jury trial and convictions, and the sentencing. Furthermore, it will discuss the investigation agencies involved, as well as the prosecutors who played a critical role in securing the convictions.

Background Information

To understand the gravity of this case, it is important to delve into the background of the drug dealers involved. Samuel “Big Hit” Sherman and Donald Bill Smith were notorious figures in their respective communities, known for their involvement in the illegal drug trade. Sherman’s criminal activities came to the attention of law enforcement when he was arrested and charged with selling methamphetamine to Susan Cooper, the federal witness. However, instead of facing his charges, Sherman was released and allowed to work as an informant for law enforcement.

Indictment and Arrest

The indictment of Sherman and Smith came in September 2019 after they were linked to the death of Susan Cooper. Cooper had been a buyer of methamphetamine from Sherman but had begun cooperating with law enforcement as an informant. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to cause witness tampering resulting in death. Law enforcement acted swiftly and arrested both individuals, seeking justice for the heinous crime committed against a federal witness.

Details of the Crime

According to eyewitness testimony presented at trial, the murder of Susan Cooper was a result of a drug exchange gone wrong. Evidence showed that Sherman, fearing a lengthy federal prison sentence, called Smith to seek his help. Smith drove from Malvern to Batesville, where Sherman lived, and shortly after his arrival, a drug exchange was set up with Cooper. However, the situation took a dark and tragic turn when Smith shot Cooper multiple times, leading to her death. Eyewitness testimony from Rachael Cooper affirmed that she witnessed the shooting and heard Susan’s cries for help.

Discovery of the Victim’s Body

Sadly, Susan Cooper’s body remained undiscovered for over a year and a half after her murder. It was not until July 2018 that Smith was charged with her murder in state court. Following his arrest, a witness came forward to disclose that Smith had enlisted his help in burying the body. This critical piece of information led federal agents to the location where Susan Cooper’s body had been concealed, finally bringing closure to her grieving family.

Jury Trial and Convictions

The case against Sherman and Smith was meticulously presented to a jury in a trial that lasted several weeks. The selection of the jury involved careful consideration, ensuring a fair and impartial process. During the trial, prosecutors presented compelling evidence, including the eyewitness testimony of Rachael Cooper, cellular tower data, and other corroborating evidence. Following a thorough deliberation, the jury returned with convictions for both defendants. Smith was found guilty of witness tampering resulting in death, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.


The sentencing phase of the trial marked a pivotal moment in seeking justice for Susan Cooper’s murder. Given the severity of their crimes, both Sherman and Smith were sentenced to life in federal prison. Importantly, the federal system does not grant parole, ensuring that they will spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. In addition to his life sentence, Smith was also ordered to serve a consecutive 50-year sentence for the additional charges he was convicted of. The impact of these sentences serves as a deterrent to others involved in similar criminal activities.

Investigation Agencies

The successful resolution of this complex case was made possible by the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies at different levels. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office played crucial roles in gathering evidence, conducting interviews, and supporting the prosecution’s case. Their commitment to justice and tireless efforts in investigating this crime deserve recognition and appreciation.

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The prosecution team, consisting of Assistant United States Attorneys Anne Gardner and Bart Dickinson, skillfully presented the case against Sherman and Smith. Their careful examination of the evidence, strategic approach, and persuasive arguments played a significant role in securing the convictions. Their dedication to upholding the law and seeking justice for the victim and her family is commendable.


The sentencing of Samuel “Big Hit” Sherman and Donald Bill Smith to life in prison for the murder of federal witness Susan Cooper represents a significant victory for the criminal justice system. This case serves as a stark reminder that the pursuit of justice knows no boundaries and will spare no effort in bringing those responsible for heinous crimes to account for their actions. The collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and the unwavering dedication of the prosecuting team have ensured that justice was served. Importantly, the convictions and sentences in this case will have a lasting impact on witness protection programs, reaffirming the commitment to protect those who bravely come forward to aid in the pursuit of justice.

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