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Lincoln Rutledge Found Guilty Of Murdering Columbus Police Officer

Franklin County Jail

A Franklin County jury found Lincoln Rutledge guilty of murdering a Columbus Police officer during a standoff last year, the county prosecutor announced Thursday afternoon.

Rutledge was found guilty of murdering SWAT officer Steven M. Smith, a 27-year Columbus Police veteran, the attempted murder of two other SWAT officers, and the felonious assault of two others.

Rutledge had pleaded not guilty to charges of shooting Smith in the head as officers were trying to arrest Rutledge on an arson warrant on April 10, 2016. Smith died two days later.

Rutledge's ex-wife testified his mental health was unraveling in the weeks before the shooting.

The defendant's attorney argued Rutledge was firing blindly and may have been reacting to police attempts to break a window open. A message seeking comment from Rutledge's attorney was left at his office Thursday.

In addition to the guilty verdict for aggravated murder, Rutledge was also found guilty for aggravated arson, which occurred the day before at his estranged wife's house in the same neighborhood.

The next phase of the capital murder trial is scheduled to start Monday June 26. Prosecutor Ron O'Brien is pursuing the death penalty.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.