Highland man testifies at his murder trial: It was an accident
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent February 13, 2013 4:58PM
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:26PM
A Highland man on trial for murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend testified on Wednesday that he never intended to hurt her.
Douglas Anthony Smith, 27, told Lake Superior Court jurors that the shooting of Jacqueline Williams was accidental during a struggle over his .357-caliber Magnum revolver after the couple had argued about his commitment to their two-year relationship.
Dr. Young Kim, a forensic pathologist with the Lake County Coroner’s office, said Williams, 28, died of a close-range gunshot wound that went through her left eye and exited the back of her skull. Police found the bullet in a recycle bin in the lower level of the couple’s tri-level duplex at 2611 40th Place on Jan. 16, 2012.
Questioned by defense attorney William Padula, Smith said both he and Williams were very intoxicated when the shooting occurred. Williams had been out drinking with friends, and Smith met up with them on Jan. 13, 2012 at Growler’s in Highland.
At one point that evening, Williams was conversing with two women and had a “sour look” on her face. “I didn’t want her to make a scene,” Smith said, so he told her to shut up and grabbed her by the arm to move her away from the conversation. The couple left at about 2:15 the following morning and went home, where the argument continued for a while and then subsided. They began kissing and started to have sex, but after a couple minutes Smith said Williams pushed him off of her and resumed the argument.
Smith said he got dressed, sat on the living room couch, then went upstairs to the spare bedroom. Williams followed him to continue the argument, Smith said. He went back into the living room, then back to the spare bedroom, where he thought about leaving because Williams wouldn’t stop arguing.
Smith said as he lay on the bed, Williams came into the room, grabbed his loaded handgun and turned toward him as she started to raise the weapon at him.
“I’m scared, I’m very scared at this point,” Smith said. He got up, walked toward her and started to reach for the gun. Williams backed up and the two struggled over the gun. She backed into the master bedroom. Smith said he turned the gun so it wasn’t facing either of them, and Williams began to fall. Smith said he fell on top of Williams, with her hand still on the gun. He said his hand was on the top part of the handle. “I’m falling and the gun goes off,” he said.
During cross-examination by deputy prosecutor Sabrina Haney, Smith said his face was close to Williams’ face, but he had no idea where she was shot. He shook Williams by the shoulders, got no response, then took the gun and left in a panic.
Smith acknowledged he drove to another bar, called 911, said his address and left. He said he drove to Miami, Fla., stopping for a few hours at a motel in Franklin, Tenn., on the way. Smith said he threw the gun into a body of water somewhere in Florida.
He was arrested in Sumter County, Fla., and agreed to allow police to search his vehicle. Inside, they found a bloody knife in a sheath. Smith said he had contemplated suicide and cut his hand to test the knife’s sharpness, but decided to return to Indiana and surrender.
Judge Salvador Vasquez said closing arguments are planned for Thursday.