COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Quentin Smith was sentenced Thursday to two consecutive life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole for killing two Westerville police officers responding to a 911 hang-up call.
Smith was found guilty Nov. 1 of two counts of aggravated murder for fatally shooting Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli in February 2018.
A divided jury on Nov. 6 recommended life with no parole over a death sentence.
Judge Richard Frye made the life sentence official during Thursday’s hearing. Frye ruled the life sentences will run consecutively to each other.
Franklin County prosecutors said Smith killed the officers in an exchange of gunfire after opening his apartment door.
Smith was shot five times.
Defense attorney Frederick Benton didn’t dispute that Smith shot the officers, but said it happened in “a moment of chaos, panic and crisis.”
Smith decided to say nothing before he learned that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“Mr. Smith has received the sentence that he offered and that he has for sometimes felt as these crimes warranted,” said Smith’s attorney Diane Menashe.
She said they tried to enter a plea deal that would put Smith in prison for life, but prosecutor O’Brien says they believed he deserved the death penalty for murdering Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, two Westerville Police Officers.
This sentencing somewhat put an end to nearly two years of mourning for the family of the two officers, and the community of Westerville.
“I just think people who are dangerous and hurt other people need to be off the streets,” said Diane Trotta who works in Westerville.
Westerville resident Jason Reidelbach added, “I feel it’s a good closure for the city, but it really comes down to the fact of really thinking about two human beings losing their lives.”
Some in the community said it is still hard to believe what happened that day in February of 2018.
“It was kind of like 9-11,” said Westerville resdient Jean Glagola. “You know just with more on a very local level. That kind of shock, and awe, and feeling like it wasn’t really true.”
Through it all Westerville was strong and still is to this day.
They show support for this community with blue lights and storefront signs and wanting to never forget this feeling of togetherness.
“I hope that the pulling together sticks around,” said Glagola. “I hope that everyone stays strong against violence and supporting our police officers.”
Smith’s attorneys said their client does not plan to file for an appeal.