Jury recommends life without parole for man convicted of killing two Westerville police officers

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COLUMBUS-- A jury has recommended a life sentence with no chance of parole for an Ohio man who killed two suburban police officers responding to a 911 hang-up call.

Quentin Smith was convicted Nov. 1 of two counts of aggravated murder for fatally shooting Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli in February 2018.

Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli

Franklin County prosecutors said Smith killed the officers in an exchange of gunfire after opening his apartment door. Smith was shot five times.

The jury recommended life Wednesday instead of a death sentence. Judge Richard Frye will formally sentence Smith in about two weeks. He can't override the jury.

Quentin Smith (Photo: city of Westerville)

Defense attorney Frederick Benton didn't dispute that Smith shot the officers, but said it happened in "a moment of chaos, panic and crisis."

Westerville Chief of Police Charles Chandler released the following statement Wednesday:

"The verdict in this phase of the trial is met with many mixed emotions.  The most important result of today is that the killer will not have the ability to harm anyone in society again. We will continue to move on with the healing process and support the Morelli and Joering families. We will also ensure the lives of our fallen brothers are celebrated and never forgotten. Tony and Eric's actions embody the true heart of the American Police Officer; they made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no outcome that brings them back, so as a department and community, we move forward. Again, thank you for the love and support. Always #WestervilleStrong."

**Continuing coverage**

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