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Family Of Slain Westerville Officers Testify In Quentin Smith's Sentencing

Jonathan Quilter
Pool Photo

Sentencing proceedings began Monday in the case of the man convicted of murdering two Westerville Police officers.

After finding Quentin Smith guilty Friday of murdering officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, jurors are back in court this week weighing whether there are sufficient mitigating factors to keep him off death row.

The jury found Smith guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, which carry a penalty of life in prison or the death penalty, along with two counts of murder and one count of domestic violence.

Defense attorney Diane Menashe argues the circumstances of the incident do not merit capital punishment.

“What’s mitigating about the nature and circumstances of the offense is the quickness of the incident,” she says. “The 74 seconds, the fact that when he opened the door he had no gun. The fact that Quentin Smith was not on his prescription medication at the time of the offense.”

The defense is also arguing Smith is the product of a troubled upbringing marked by violence and substance abuse.

Prosecutors wrapped up their arguments Monday after the officers’ widows and one of their daughters read victims impact statements.

"Can you imagine being in 7th grade and knowing your father had been gunned down?” Jami Joering read to the jury. “The other two girls crumbled upon hearing what had happened."

Morreli’s widow Linda Morelli told jurors, “The 10th of every month is a hard day emotionally to get through.  Every holiday, birthday, anniversary, and family gathering we are missing him.”

Morreli’s daughter Beth told jurors she was engaged at the time of her father’s murder. She got their last name tattooed on her foot in her dad’s handwriting.

“It was like he was walking me down the aisle,” she said holding back tears.

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.