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Arguments Conclude In Murder Trial Of Man Who Shot Westerville Officers

Quentin Smith was found guilty in the deaths of Westerville Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli on Friday, November 1, 2019.
Fred Squillante
Pool/Columbus Dispatch
Quentin Smith, who's accused of killing two Westerville Police officers, waived the right to testify at his trial on Oct. 31, 2019.

Prosecutors wrapped up a quick trial Thursday in the case of a man charged with murdering two Westerville Police officers.

Quentin Smith stands accused of murdering Officers Anthony Morrelli and Eric Joering in February 2018. He waived his right to testify in his own defense, and his team didn’t put any witnesses on the stand.

In closing arguments, Smith's attorney Frederick Benton tried to undermine the prosecution’s contention that Smith knowingly shot law enforcement officers.

“This is moving fast,” Benton argued. “Small room, shots being fired, totally unexpected. There’s fear, there’s chaos and there’s confusion”

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The two aggravated murder charges they’ve filed are based on Smith killing a law enforcement officer.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, in contast, depicted Smith’s actions as deliberate. During his closing arguments, O'Brien told jurors after the police knocked on the door, Smith cracked the door to look out.

“There’s no question who’s knocking on the door at that point in time," O'Brien says. "Two Westerville Police officers who’ve been there before. He knows they’re police officers, they’re not detectives in plain clothes.”

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien giving closing arguments in the case of Quentin Smith, who killed two Westerville Police officers, on Oct. 31, 2019.
Credit Fred Squillante / Pool/Columbus Dispatch
Pool/Columbus Dispatch
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien is seeking the death penalty against Quentin Smith. He gave his closing arguments on Oct. 31, 2019.

In addition to the aggravated murder charges, O’Brien’s team charged Smith with two counts of murder. They’ve also charged him with one count of domestic violence for the incident that precipitated the police call, and one count of having a weapon under disability.

Smith 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.

Smith’s fate is now in the hands of the jury, who will begin deliberating Friday.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.