LIMA — Jurors in the murder trial of Quintel Estelle on Wednesday heard testimony from two eyewitness who said they saw the Lima man fire two shots from a handgun at Donald Smith. Both shots from a 9mm pistol struck the 63-year-old Smith, leading to his death a short time later.
Lucas County coroner Diane Scala-Barnett testified that Smith died as a direct result of those gunshots. One bullet entered the man’s chest after first passing through his hand, while the other entered his left side, grazed his heart and left his spinal cord severed. Either shot could have caused death, the coroner said.
LaReis Liles, Smith’s girlfriend at the time, testified to the events that led Smith to Estelle’s residence at 939 Brice Avenue on the evening of May 4, 2019. She said family members were bowling when Smith got a phone call from Adrian Harmon, the teen-aged step-son of Estelle whom Smith considered his own son. The youngster told Smith he had been involved in a physical altercation with Estelle.
Upon arriving at the Brice Avenue location, Liles testified, Smith got out of his vehicle and argued with — and then struck — Estelle, knocking him to the ground. The defendant then went inside his home while Smith started to return to his vehicle. Liles said that within a few minutes Estelle exited the home.
“I saw him with a gun, but I didn’t think he’d shoot it,” Liles testified. She said Estelle came to the passenger side of the SUV, where she was seated, with the gun in his hand. “He raised it up and fired it through my open window. I saw the flames spark out,” the woman said.
The shot struck Smith, who was standing outside the driver’s side of the vehicle. Liles testified that Estelle then walked around the front of the vehicle, towered over Smith and discharged his weapon a second time.
“He said, ‘I bet you won’t put your (expletive) hands on me again’ before walking away,” Liles said.
Liles’ son Emmanuel, who was also seated inside the SUV at the time of the shooting, told jurors a nearly identical story.
Estelle, 39, of Lima, is charged with two counts of murder, unclassified felonies with specifications for the use of a firearm, in the May 4, 2019, shooting death of 63-year-old Donald Smith.
Defense attorney Steven Crossmock in his opening statements Tuesday advanced a “self-defense” theory surrounding the shooting. No weapon linked to the shooting was ever found. Estelle, who left the scene on the night of the incident, surrendered to police less than a week later.
The state rested its case Wednesday following testimony by Lima Police Department Detective Steve Steckschulte. The defense will begin its presentation Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations later in the morning.