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Convicted cop-killer Quentin Smith sentenced to life in prison

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Convicted cop-killer Quentin Smith to be sentenced today

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Jurors to begin deliberating in sentencing phase of Quentin Smith trial

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Quentin Smith trial moves to day 2 of sentencing

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Family of Officers Joering and Morelli make statements during sentencing hearing

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Quentin Smith trial moves to sentencing phase

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11/6/19 – Sentencing verdict reached

The jury recommended a life sentence in prison without possibility of parole.

11/5/19 – Sentencing Phase Day 2

A forensic psychologist testified Tuesday that he believes convicted cop killer Quentin Smith has a “broken brain.”

Dr. John Fabian, who interviewed and evaluated Smith for the defense, said Smith suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. “He just doesn’t emote,” Fabian said. “He’s like flat as a stone and that’s really  based in depression in my opinion.”

Smith was convicted last week of killing Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering. The jury is now hearing evidence about Smiths background and mental health in preparation of deciding whether to recommend the death penalty.

Fabian testified Smith has a love-hate relationship with his mother which has repeated itself with his relationships with other women in his life.

Smith’s wife, Candace made a 9-1-1 hangup call after being punched and choked by Smith on February 10, 2018. Smith shot and killed the two officer when they responded to the call.

Fabian testified that Smith’s mental illness, childhood with alcoholic and absentee stepfather, abusive mother and other factors contribute to his behavior as an adult.

“He’s made poor choices , no question,” Fabian said. “And when the officers walk in the door that night – that gets very complicated as well. But all of these other factors that I don’t think he had choices over placed him at risk to be in that situation and to make poor choices.”

“Sometimes the line between suicide and homicide is narrow,” Fabian told the jury. “He’s been very suicidal and suicidal multiple times and there seem to be the same psycho-social stressors – problems with jobs, problems with finance, out-of-control relationships, mental health issues, addiction, instability where he’s living, it’s all he’s known.”


11/4/19 – Sentencing Phase Day 1

The sentencing phase in the trial of Quentin Smith started Monday morning with emotional statements from the widows of two Westerville police officers shot and killed by Smith.

The jury found Smith guilty Friday of the February 2018 aggravated murders of Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

In the sentencing phase, the jury is to determine whether or not to recommend the death penalty.

Linda Morelli fought back tears as she described the impact of her husband’s murder.

“My kids have lost their father, and I have lost my husband because of the events that happened on February 10, 2018,” she said. “Our lives have changed dramatically since then.”

This is believed to be the first time in Ohio that victim impact statements were allowed in the sentencing phase of a death penalty case. Prior to the passage of a victim rights law in 2018 known as Marcy’s Law, only the defense was permitted to present evidence of mitigating factors in death penalty cases.

Jami Joering described how difficult the loss of her husband has been on their three young daughters.

“The girls, to this day, will call his cell phone to hear his voice on the voicemail because that’s the only thing that brings them comfort,” Joering said. “They will text him to wish him happy birthday or simply tell them about their day. They so badly want him back home – to tuck them in at night or to watch movies together as a family. How do you fix that?”

Officers Morelli and Joering had responded to a 911 hangup call from Smith’s wife, Candace. Candace Smith testified during the trial that she dialed 911 after Smith punched and choked her, then confronted her with two handguns.

She said Smith carried the handguns to the couch next to the front door where officers were knocking.

Jami Joering told jurors her husband died a hero that day.

“I’m proud that he walked in with his head held high and saved Candace and her daughter because he took an oath to serve and protect and he died that day doing just that,” she said.

Defense attorneys said they will present witnesses and evidence that Quentin Smith suffers from a variety of mental illnesses and had a difficult childhood.

The jury returned its verdicts after just three and a half hours of deliberation. They found Smith guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and one count of domestic violence. Smith was also guilty of two specifications that make him eligible for the death penalty: the purposeful killing of a police officer and purposeful killing of two or more people.

The sentencing phase is expected to last several days.


11/1/19 – Trial Day 5

5:30 p.m. Update — A jury on Friday found Quentin Smith guilty on all charges including two counts of aggravated murder in the February 2018 shooting deaths of Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

The sentencing phase of the trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday; watch live on NBC4i.com and download the NBC4 app to receive alerts. Smith is eligible for the death penalty.

Officers Morelli and Joering were shot and killed on Feb. 10, 2018, after responding to a 911 hangup call from an apartment with a known history of domestic violence.

The jury returned its verdicts after just three and a half hours of deliberation. They found Smith guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and one count of domestic violence. Smith was also guilty of two specifications that make him eligible for the death penalty: the purposeful killing of a police officer and purposeful killing of two or more people.

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.

Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering

Smith faces the death penalty. During the sentencing phase, the defense can present evidence of mitigating factors such as mental health and a difficult childhood in an attempt to spare Smith from the death penalty.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told jurors in opening arguments on Monday that Smith intended to kill the officers and even bragged about his skill with a gun while in jail.​

Defense attorney Frederick Benton, however, said the officers were killed in a moment of panic, chaos, and crisis.

During the four-day trial, jurors heard emotional testimony from other Westerville officers who responded to the scene.

They also heard from Smith’s wife, Candace Smith, who testified her husband had punched and choked her that day prompting her 9-1-1 hangup call.

She told the jury her husband carried two handguns to the couch next to the door where the officers were knocking.

She also said she heard the officers say “don’t do it, don’t it” in the moments before gunfire erupted.

During the trial, the jurors heard that Quentin Smith suffered from schizoaffective disorder and PTSD but Judge Richard Frye told them they were not allowed to consider that in determining guilt.

“You must not consider any evidence of Mr. Smiths’s mental illness, mental instability, or medication for any such condition in deciding whether Mr. Smith has been proven guilty of any of the five counts and any specifications,” Frye said.

In closing arguments, O’Brien said Quentin 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.”

The defense did not call any witnesses and Smith waived his right to testify in his own defense.

However, Benton told jurors in closing arguments on Thursday 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 told jurors.

Benton argued Quentin Smith did not intend to kill the officers.

RELATED: Westerville Police Chief: Quentin Smith trial ’emotionally brutal’ for department

“This is moving fast,” Benton said. “ A small room, shots being fired, totally unexpected, there’s fear, chaos, and confusion.”

Assistant Prosecutor James Lowe told jurors 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.”

Keith Ferrell, president of the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said after the verdict, “anyone that was intimately involved in this will never be the same.”

Ferrell said this is exactly the kind of case the death penalty was meant for. “Obviously, that is what we clearly want,” Ferrell said. “We feel that the death penalty is used sparingly in Central Ohio but this is a case clearly what that is written for and we’re confident that the jury will make the decision on that as well.”


1:50 p.m. Update – Smith was found guilty on all charges, including aggravated murder. The death penalty phase of the trial begins Monday at 9:30 a.m.


Jurors in the murder trial of Quentin Smith began deliberations Friday morning after receiving instructions from the judge on the process.

After 45 minutes of instructions from the judge, the jury in the aggravated murder trial of Quentin Smith started their deliberations shorty before 9:30 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.

Judge Richard Frye provided the jury with definitions of legal terms used in the case including “reasonable doubt” and “purposeful.”  He told them that they are not allowed to consider Quentin Smith’s mental illness as part of their deliberations.

The indictment filed against Smith includes two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and one count of domestic violence. The aggravated murder charges also carry death penalty specifications defined as the purposeful killing of a police officer and the purposeful killing of two or more people.

Morelli and Joering had responded to a 9-1-1 hangup call from the residence of Smith’s wife.

Candace Smith testified during the trial that her husband had punched and choked her that day and that he carried two handguns to the couch next to the door where officers were knocking.  She says she told the officers her husband had a gun moments before there was an exchange of gunfire.

The two officers were killed. Quentin Smith was shot five times but survived.

If the jurors convict him of aggravated murder with at least one specification, the case would enter a second phase in which the defense would present information about Smith — known as mitigating factors — in an effort to persuade jurors to spare his life.

The judge told the jurors to elect a foreperson and discouraged them from stating their positions right away. He also cautioned them against discussing anything about the case outside of the jury room. 

If the jury finds Smith guilty of aggravated murder and at least one of the specifications, the case will continue into the death penalty phase.

Jurors would then consider what are referred to as mitigating factors such as the defendant’s mental health and childhood in deciding whether or not to recommend the death penalty.


10/31/2019 – Trial Day 4

The fate of a man accused of killing two Westerville Police officers could be in the jury’s hands as soon as Friday.  

Closing arguments in the Quentin Smith trial began at the Franklin County Courthouse around 1 p.m. Thursday. 

Smith is on trial for the murders of Westerville officer Anthony Morelli and Officer Eric Joering. 

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. 

Smith is charged with aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on Feb 10, 2018.

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.” 


10/30/2019 – Trial Day 3

On Wednesday, Quentin Smith’s wife, Candice Smith, is expected to testify on the third day of the trial.  The court has ruled no video, audio or streaming during her testimony. NBC4’s Ted Hart will live tweet updates, which will be posted here:

Quentin Smith is charged with killing Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on February 10, 2018. 

Candice Smith made the 911 hang-up call that police responded to, before the shooting.  


10/29/2019 – Trial Day 2

Retired Westerville police officer 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.”


10/28/2019 – Trial Day 1

In his opening statement to the jury, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien walked them through the broad strokes of what investigators and witnesses say happened that day.

​O’Brien told the jury how a fellow officer found Joering at the scene.

“Shot right here, right between the eyes in the forehead,” said O’Brien. “Officer Joering had three gunshot wounds — one right between the eyes, another here in his shoulder, and one here,” he concluded, pointing to the inside of his wrist.​

The prosecution played a number of 911 calls, including one where Smith’s wife claimed he had shot a police officer.​

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 Fredrick Benton told the jury that the day the officers were killed culminated in a moment of panic, chaos, and crisis.​

He described the same events from a different perspective and with different intent. ​The different take on the same event echoes back to ground Benton laid earlier in the day during voir dire. ​


The shooting

On February 10, 2018, Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli responded to a domestic disturbance at a home on Crosswind Drive in Westerville.

The day of the shootings, Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said Joering and Morelli were fired on almost as soon as they entered the building to investigate. They returned fire, wounding 30-year-old Quentin Smith.

According to autopsy reports, Officer Morelli died after he was shot in the chest.

Officer Joering died from a gunshot wound to the head. He also suffered gunshot wounds to the left arm and right forearm.

Smith was arrested and charged with the murder of both officers.

In March of 2018, a Franklin County Grand Jury returned a six-count death penalty indictment against Smith.

Officer Eric Joering

joeringfamily_392174

Officer Eric Joering was the youngest son of Lillian and Jim Joering.

“He was the youngest of all of us,” said Beth Bradley, Joering’s cousin, “so he followed us around.”

His family said he grew up loving cars, and briefly worked in a mechanic’s shop. It was around the time he graduated from Westerville South High School in 1997, however, that he decided he wanted a career in law enforcement.

“He said ‘I want to be a policeman,’” his mother explained. “I said, ‘well go for it. Go for it. It’s wonderful. I have two brothers who are policemen. If that’s what you really want to do, go for it. We’ll help you through it.’”

Joering’s brother, Michael Joering, said he also recalls that decision.

“I remember very vividly when he decided to become a police officer,” he said. “We were really, really proud of him. He was very focused. He knew what he wanted to do.”

Joering was hired by the Westerville Police Department in 2001.

Officer Anthony Morelli

Officer Tony Morelli was a 29-year veteran of the force. He was recognized across Westerville by young and old alike. He worked as a school resource officer and could often be seen providing security at school athletic events.

“He liked being a school resource officer, he loved working with the kids,” said Officer Morelli’s wife, Linda Morelli. “He wanted to help teach the right from wrong.”

Linda Morelli described how her husband would teach students about the dangers of impaired driving.

“He liked to have them experience things. One thing he did when he was school resource officer at Blendon Middle School, he borrowed a golf cart from the schools. And he had these, we called them goggles, drunk goggles,” recalled Linda Morelli. “He would set up a course, and he had the kids put the drunk goggles on and try and drive the course, as if they were a drunk driver.”

After Officer Morelli’s death, Westerville North High School put a picture of his badge near where he stood during basketball games.

History of domestic violence reports

Incident reports released by Westerville police show officers had been to Quentin Smith’s home or had dealings with him several times since 2017. Some of those incidents were for alleged domestic violence involving a woman identified in the reports as his wife, Candace Smith.

In a Nov. 29 incident, Candace Smith, 33, went to a police station and asked about protection orders because she said she and her husband weren’t getting along and she discovered she had a sexually transmitted disease. She also told police that when she “threatens to leave Quentin, he tells her that he would kill her, their daughter, and himself,” the report said.

Candace Smith told police her husband “has a gun that he carries all of the time, and if it isn’t on him, it is close by.” Police were called to the home later that night to investigate a report of domestic violence.

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