LIMA — Jurors in the murder trial of Quintel Estelle deliberated for 3½ hours Thursday before convicting the 39-year-old Lima man of two counts of murder in the 2019 shooting death of Donald Smith.
The defendant showed no emotion when the two verdicts were read. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed will sentence Estelle at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 5. He faces a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Smith, 63, died of gunshot wounds sustained on the evening of May 4, 2019, outside Estelle’s home at 939 Brice Avenue in Lima. Lucas County coroner Diane Scala-Barnett testified on Wednesday that Smith died as a direct result of those gunshots.
Taking the witness stand in his own defense as the trial’s final witness on Thursday morning, Estelle said he feared for his own life when he shot Smith two times on the street.
The series of events on the evening of Smith’s death began with a family argument between Estelle and his step-son, Adrian Harmon, over some dirty dishes in the sink. The disagreement escalated and the teenager called Smith, whom testimony showed he considered a father, to come to the Brice Avenue residence and get him.
Several minutes later Smith arrived and confronted Estelle, striking him once and knocking him to the ground.
Estelle testified on Thursday that he was “scared” after being struck by the much larger Smith and that he “panicked” and went inside to retrieve his gun from the home. The defendant testified that he then approached Smith, who was standing beside his SUV that was parked on Brice Avenue. Smith, he said, made a sudden move and “ducked,” suggesting he may have been reaching for a weapon, Estelle told jurors.
There was contradicting testimony from at least two other witnesses, as well as medical evidence presented at trial. Estelle denied he walked around the front of Smith’s vehicle and stood over him while firing a second gunshot.
“I am not a killer,” Estelle testified, even after admitting he fired the fatal shots.
Latavia Estelle, the defendant’s wife, testified that she attempted to discourage Smith from coming to the family’s residence that evening by shouting “don’t come over here” several times into the phone as her son was telling Smith of his altercation with her husband.
Mrs. Estelle said she was simply trying to “diffuse the situation.”
Once Smith arrived at the Brice Avenue home, the woman said, he struck her husband and knocked him to the ground. Quintel then went into the home and returned with a handgun, she testified. Latavia Estelle said she heard two shots ring out but did not see the shooting because she was hiding behind a vehicle.
“Could this entire incident have been avoided if Mr. Smith had not come to the house that evening?” Mrs. Estelle was asked by Defense Attorney Steven Johnston.
“Yes,” she replied.
Assistant Allen Prosecutor Rebecca King Newman, during her cross- examination, posed a different question to the woman.
“Could this have been avoided if your husband had simply stayed in the house?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” the woman said.