Quentin Smith Found Guilty Of All Charges In Deaths Of Westerville Police Officers
A Franklin County jury has found Quentin Smith guilty on all counts, including aggravated murder, in the 2018 fatal shooting of two Westerville Police officers. The charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
In addition to aggravated murder, Smith was found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of domestic violence. The jury deliberated for about 3.5 hours on Friday before handing in their verdict.
The court and jury will reconvene on Monday to consider sentencing.
On Feb. 10, 2018, officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering arrived at Smith’s house in Westerville after a 911 hang-up call made by his estranged wife Candace. After Smith opened fire, Joering died on the scene, while Morelli died at a nearby hospital. Smith was also wounded in the exchange.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien sought the death penalty because the officers were killed in the line of duty. He says Smith knew Morell and Joering were officers when he pulled the trigger.
“There’s no question who’s knocking on the door at that point in time," O'Brien said on Thursday. "Two Westerville Police officers who’ve been there before. He knows they’re police officers, they’re not detectives in plain clothes.”
According to prosecutors, the 911 call was preceded by a domestic dispute, during which Smith allegedly strangled Candace to the point that she lost consciousness.
Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges. During arguments, Smith waived his right to testify in his own defense, while his legal team put no witnesses on the stand.
Smith's attorney Frederick Benton said Smith didn't intend to kill the officers, but tried to emphasize how quickly the encounter played out.
“This is moving fast,” Benton said during his closing arguments on Thursday. “Small room, shots being fired, totally unexpected. There’s fear, there’s chaos and there’s confusion.”
Smith, who was previously convicted of burglary, was legally barred from having a firearm at the time of the shooting. The man who supplied Smith with the gun used in the shooting pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to five years in prison.