COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Westerville police officers offered emotional testimony Tuesday in the aggravated murder trial of Quentin Smith.
Smith is charged with killing Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on February 10, 2018. The officers were shot when they responded to a 911 hangup call from an apartment with a known history of domestic violence.
Retired Westerville police officers Timothy Ray was the first witness called to the stand. Ray testified he covered the back of the apartment building while Morelli and Joering went to the front door.
Ray described hearing gunshots and then running around to the front of the building. Inside the apartment he says he found Joering shot and unresponsive, Morelli saying “I’m hit, I’m hit,” and Quentin Smith on the floor with gunshot wounds.
Ray says he tried to tend to Officer Morelli while keeping his gun pointed at Smith. “The defendant kept trying to move,” Ray said. “I didn’t want him to get upright because I didn’t want him to have a chance to get towards us again….I just kept telling him to stay down.”
Officer Stacy Pentecost was one of three officers who arrived a couple minutes later. “Officer Morelli was laying on the floor holding himself up by his elbow,” Pentecost said. “He looked up at us. Officer Joering was laying behind him on his side.”
Joering died at the scene. Morelli, who was shot in the chest through a gap in the side of his bulletproof vest, died later that day at the hospital.
In opening statements on Monday, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told the jury the state would prove it was Smith’s intent to kill the officers, and that he even bragged about his skill with a gun while in jail.
Defense attorney Frederick Benton told the jury that the day the officers were killed culminated in a moment of panic, chaos, and crisis.
If convicted on the aggravated murder charged, Smith could face the death penalty.
The defendant’s wife, Candace Smith, is expected to take the stand on Wednesday. Candace Smith made the911 hangup call and later called back and told the dispatcher that her husband shot the officers.
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