COLUMBUS, Ohio (via WCMH) — A jury on Friday found Quentin Smith guilty on all counts including aggravated murder in the 2018 shooting deaths of Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.
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.
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.
Smith was charged with two counts each of aggravated murder and murder, one count of domestic violence and having weapons under disability.
Smith faces the death penalty. The death penalty phase of the trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
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.
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.
“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.”