COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The fate of a man accused of killing two Westerville Police officers could be in the jury’s hands as soon as Friday.
Jurors in the murder trial of Quentin Smith will begin deliberations Friday morning.
Smith is charged with aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on Feb 10, 2018.
After calling a dozen witnesses, prosecutors wrapped up the state’s case Thursday afternoon. The defense did not call any witnesses and Smith waived his right to testify in his own defense.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told jurors in closing arguments that Smith knew what he was doing when he answered the door. “There’s no question who’s knocking on the door at that point in time,” O’Brien said. “He knows they’re police officers. They’re not detectives. They’re not plain clothes. They’re in marked cruisers, and navy blue uniforms with a patch, badge, tactical gear.”
Smith’s wife, Candace Smith testified during the trial that her husband had punched and choked her that day prompting her 9-1-1 hangup call. She told the jury that Quentin Smith carried two handguns to the couch next to the door where the officers were knocking.
Candace Smith testified Wednesday that she heard the officers say “don’t do it, don’t it” in the moments before gunfire erupted.
Jurors also heard emotional testimony from other Westerville officers who responded to the scene.
Defense attorney Fred Benton suggested the jurors need to set their emotions aside. “You have to decide this case based upon the evidence – not based on emotion, not based upon sympathy, not even based upon revenge.”
Benton said his client did not intend to kill police officers but rather reacted in a moment of panic and confusion. “This is moving fast,” Benton said. “ A small room, shots being fired, totally unexpected, there’s fear, chaos and confusion.”
Asst. Prosecutor James Lowe says all that matters is that Smith killed the officers. “What’s the confusion,” Lowe said. “There’s no confusion. You don’t want to be confused – don’t grab for your Glock.”
The aggravated murder charges against Smith include specifications that, if convicted, would make him eligible for the death penalty.
NBC4i will livestream the entirety of the trial on nbc4i.com and in our app. Download the free NBC4 News app for alerts as the trial continues.