Springfield murder trial will hinge on self defense claim
Opening arguments began Monday in a trial that could go two weeks
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Prosecutor Adam Korn told the jury Monday during the opening moments of Springfield resident Greg Smith's long awaited murder trial that Smith "assassinated a man in broad daylight" after he drove his car up and positioned it blocking the sidewalk that victim Wesley Wing was walking along on South Street in Springfield moments before Smith opened fire on Wing on the morning of Saturday, April 18th, 2015.
"This was not an execution," defense attorney Jordana Levine emphasized moments later when it was her turn to make an opening counter-argument in the courtroom at the Windsor County Courthouse in downtown White River Junction where the second-degree murder trial against Smith, 32, is expected to continue for up to two weeks.
Korn stressed that investigators found shell casings on the pavement at the intersection of Cheryl Lane and South Street which, he suggested, proved Smith's hand was extended clear out the driver's side window of his black Infiniti as he pointed a .40 caliber pistol toward Wing whom Korn said was standing somewhere between four and ten feet away as five shots were fired into his body.
Vermont Assistant Attorney General Adam Korn points to a map of Springfield as Judge Timothy Tomasi looks on from the bench. Korn told the jurors, "You're going to be convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that Greg Smith wasn't in fear of his life. There was no fight. He was not under attack," when he opened fire on Wing.
Korn showed jurors surveillance camera footage taken from inside Jake's Market in which Smith's car could be seen doing a rapid loop through the parking lot as Smith reversed direction on South Street and headed toward the direction from which Wing was walking.
Other video clips taken moments later show a startled patron looking up as she heard the burst of gunfire just a few yards away and the clerk handing her a phone so that she could call 911 and then a final clip as Wing can be seen walking doubled over, clutching his torso, before he came through the door and collapsed just inside the convenience store.
A video screen in the courtroom projects the video camera at Jake's Market capturing the moment a mortally wounded Wesley Wing staggered through the front doors
Wing died later that same evening after he was airlifted to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center from Springfield Hospital where he had initially been treated.
Levine stressed to the jurors that, despite the number of witnesses who police interviewed who saw parts of the shooting unfold or its immediate aftermath, the only living witness who was right there at the intersection is Greg Smith and she said Smith is going to claim he fired in self-defense after Wing suddenly sucker punched him in the face and then reached through the driver's side window and pinned his head against the steering wheel.
Defense Attorney Jordana Levine told the jurors that "Greg Smith fell victim to heroin, like so many others in his community...and it ruined his life." Levine said that everyone who will testify in Smith's trial has been impacted by heroin either directly or indirectly while living and working in Springfield.
At stake in the case is a presumptive 20-year-to-life sentence if Smith were to be convicted of the second-degree murder charge that he is facing.
The day's first witness was widow Sheila Wing who acknowledged to defense attorney Brian Marsicovetere that her husband Wes had been drinking that Saturday when he suddenly went outside and confronted Greg Smith's girlfriend, Wendy Morris, as she sat in a car parked on their street.
Witnesses said that Wes Wing was angry over what he suspected was drug dealing along the street by both Morris and Smith and so he yelled at Morris to "get her car and her drugs out of the neighborhood" and did it loudly enough that Sheila Wing said she was concerned other neighbors were likely to call the police about the disturbance.
Shiela Wing testified, tearfully at times, that she was so concerned that her husband was on the brink of being charged with disorderly conduct that she walked outside with her children as she called Wing's boss on the phone to see if he could drive over and pick Wes up and take him somewhere before things escalated.
Widow Sheila Wing took the witness stand Monday and testified about her husband Wesley's last moments
Crossing the street to the lower parking lot of Springfield High School, Wing said she watched as her husband stomped up the sidewalk toward Jake's Market and a short time later Morris's car and then Smith's car began following her husband up the road.
Wing told the jury that she feared Wes was "about to get beaten up" and said she saw him for the last time in her life as he walked across the crosswalk.
Sheila Wing testified that as she was "power walking" with her two youngest children to try and keep him in sight she heard the shots ring out and, even without being able to see directly what had happened, she told Wesley's boss on the phone "They just shot my husband."
Life-long Springfield resident Greg Smith, 32, (flanked by defense attorneys Brian Marsicovetere and Jordana Levine) maintains he fired in self-defense after he said Wesley Wing reached into his car and pinned his head against the steering wheel, a version of events that police and prosecutors allege is contradicted by witness accounts.
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