Springfield shooting trial may wind up this week
The prosecution rested their case on Wednesday
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - The trial of Greg Smith on a charge of second-degree murder for the 2015 shooting of Springfield resident Wesley Wing is going much quicker than originally anticipated and may come to an end as early as Thursday afternoon.
Originally expected to last two weeks, the trial sped along this week to the point that prosecutors decided to go ahead and rest their case just before noon on Wednesday.
With snow blowing hard against the courtroom windows in downtown White River Junction, Judge Timothy Tomasi decided to send the jurors home early and resume the trial Thursday morning when attorneys have indicated they intend to put Smith, 32, on the stand to testify in his own defense.
Judge Timothy Tomasi considers a legal argument on Wednesday
The case against Smith has boiled down to the split seconds in which, according to his defense attorneys, Smith fired five shots in rapid succession at Wing after an escalating series of brief verbal altercations between the two men took place on South Street in Springfield on the afternoon of April 18th, 2015.
Prosecutors charge that Smith was incensed that Wing had confronted Smith's girlfriend just minutes beforehand, accusing her of dealing drugs in the small neighborhood surrounding Springfield's high school.
Witnesses saw and heard Smith roar past Wing in a Black Infiniti as Wing stormed up the sidewalk on foot towards Jake's Market and they heard the two men briefly shouting at each other as Smith cruised past Wing before he looped his car back though the parking lot of the convenience store and drove onto nearby Cheryl Lane, positioning the Infiniti so that he was directly between Wing and the store.
Police investigators believe that Smith reached out the window of his car, pointing a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun at Wing and opening fire when Wing was still somewhere between four and ten feet away from the car, a scenario that forensic experts testified this week was bolstered in their opinion because the three shots that passed through Wing's torso entered from different directions, suggesting that he had room to spin completely around as he was being shot.
Game Warden Mike Schichtle points out to jurors where his search dog "Magooch", a black Labrador retriever, honed in on the scent of gunpowder and sniffed out a bullet near the base of the tree next to South Street
Smith is expected to testify that instead of the execution-style slaying put forth by detectives that he instead fired in self-defense after Wing walked up to his open window, sucker punched him in the face, and then leaned way into his car pinning the stunned Smith with his head against his steering wheel to the point that he couldn't breathe until he was able to grab his gun and fire five shots at nearly point blank range into Wing.
Wesley Wing, a carpenter and father of four, died later that night after having been shot five times
In the hours that followed, the defense has suggested that the terrified Smith, an admitted heroin addict at the time, disassembled the gun and threw it out the window of his car in several pieces along the way as he drove to the home of a former girlfriend in Keene, New Hampshire where he knew he could get heroin and hide out.
One of the other residents of that house at the time, Rebecca Russ, testified on Tuesday that Smith appeared that evening in 2015 "crying and scared" and saying that "some guy jumped through the window of his car, beat the crap out of him and then (Smith) shot him," because "the guy was on top of him" and "he couldn't breathe."
Russ testified that she had no reason to disbelieve Smith because "he looked like he had just gotten beat up" with a black eye and a scratch on his face that she said seemed consistent with his story.
Rebecca Russ describes the scratch she said she saw on Smith's face just hours after the shooting took place
Russ, who said she has since gotten her own life together and kicked a heroin habit that had reached 70 bags a day back in 2015, said Smith was high that evening at his ex-girlfriend's house and, after using more heroin, he traded his black car with another resident of the house for a white Buick Rendezvous which he drove back into Vermont the next day.
"He knew he had f***** up his life," Russ said of Smith, adding that he had initially asked her to say, if anyone asked, that she had picked him up from a card game in Springfield earlier in the day and driven him to Keene.
Taking the witness stand after Russ, Vermont State Police Trooper Hugh O'Donnell testified that he was one of the officers who, acting on a tip, walked into the woods on April 23rd, 2015 and found Smith hiding out in a fifth-wheel camper with his girlfriend, Wendy Morris, on land in South Londonderry owned by Morris' brother Darrell Barror.
Vermont State Police Trooper Hugh O'Donnell said he didn't see any signs that Smith had been beaten up when he caught up with the fugitive five days after the shooting
O'Donnell testified that he did not see any evidence that Smith had a black eye, facial scratch or any other bruising that would have indicated he'd been in a fight for his life five days beforehand.
Vermont State Police Lt. Lance Burnham testified that after Keene Police Officer Matthew Bomberg spotted and seized Smith's black Infiniti in a small parking lot within sight of Smith's ex-girlfriend's residence members of Vermont's Crime Scene Search Team tried to process the vehicle for fingerprints and other evidence but found it had been thoroughly wiped down with Armor All and other cleaning supplies that were still inside the trunk of the car.
Keene, New Hampshire Police Officer Matthew Bomberg spotted the missing black Infiniti in his town
"It was an extremely clean vehicle," Lt. Burnham noted, "the (Armor All) was so thick it coated the gloves of the sergeant doing the search" inside the car.
Vermont State Police Lt. Lance Burnham describes how a bullet left a "skip mark" near where it was found beside Cheryl Lane saying "It actually leaves a cut in the grass."
Barror, Smith's girlfriend's brother, also took the stand Wednesday. First charged as an accessory for helping Smith in the wake of Smith's arrest in 2015, Barror got in even more trouble a year ago when he was charged with robbing the Citizen's Bank in the Springfield Shopping Plaza.
Judge Timothy Tomasi took pains to seat Barror in the witness box before the jury was brought in to see his testimony Wednesday and the judge also had court security officers remove Barror's handcuffs and shackles so that jurors would not realize he was actually a prisoner in case that might unduly influence their opinion of his testimony.
Darrell Barror, 36, testified that he helped his sister hide Greg Smith even though Barror considered Wes Wing a friend
Barror recalled for the jurors how he and his sister, Wendy Morris, and Smith were all using heroin at the time of the shooting and how he was talked into letting the couple hide out in the camper he had put on his property in South Londonderry. Barror said that after Smith traded his own car for the white Buick and drove back to Vermont the day after the shooting he went and got him.
"I picked him up at Magic Mountain and brought him there" to the camper and gave him cigarettes and propane, Barror recalled.
Vermont State Police Trooper Mike Sorensen discovered the abandoned white Buick Rendezvous in a parking lot at the Magic Mountain ski area
Asked if Smith had any visible marks on his face at that time, Barror replied, "I don't think so. I didn't notice any."
Barror said he remembered Smith talking about wanting to acquire a fake passport so he could flee further away. Barror said Smith also gave him a brief description of the events on the Saturday afternoon when the shooting took place.
Defense attorneys Brian Marsicovetere and Jordana Levine confer as Smith looks on
"He said he went to confront Wesley Wing but Wesley wouldn't (stop to speak with him). (Smith said) Wes ended up punching him through the window a couple times. (Smith) pulled (the gun) out and blacked out. He pulled the trigger and blacked out," Barror recounted.
Barror said he told Smith that he had grown up with Wing.
"I expressed that Wes was a friend of mine and he said 'Yeah, I know, I'm sorry'," Barror recalled.
A photo of the fifth-wheel camper where Smith and Morris were found was projected onto a screen in the courtroom
Barror said that as the days wore on and the manhunt for Smith intensified "I started realizing that what I was doing was stupid."
"You didn't want a lot of details about what had happened?" Smith's defense attorney Jordana Levine asked Barror.
"Not really," Barror replied.
During a break in the trial on Wednesday Smith talked to several friends who came to support him
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