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‘It Happened Really Fast’: Defense Rests After Defendant Testifies

  • Gregory Smith, of Springfield, Vt., shows the jury how he pushed Wesley Wing away from his car and shot him during Smith's trial in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 8, 2018. Smith testified that he fired his gun in self-defense after being assaulted by Wing. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Terry Wing, of Springfield, Vt., reacts to Gregory Smith's testimony in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 8, 2018, about the shooting of her son Wesley Wing in April 2015 over a dispute about drug activity in the Springfield neighborhood where Smith and Wesley Wing lived. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Wesley Wing, of Springfield, Vt., in an undated family photograph. (Family photograph)

  • Wendy Morris, of Springfield, Vt., listens to testimony by her boyfriend, Gregory Smith, in his second-degree murder trial at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 8, 2018. According to police, Morris was confronted in April 2015 by their neighbor, Wesley Wing, about illegal drug activity in the neighborhood before Wing was shot minutes later by Smith in an altercation. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • During Gregory Smith's trial in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 8, 2018, Vermont Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle asks Smith to show on a map where he parked his car before a confrontation between Wesley Wing and Smith in Springfield, Vt., in April 2015. Smith testified that he fired his gun in self-defense after being assaulted by Wing. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, February 08, 2018

White River Junction — The Vermont man accused of a fatal shooting nearly three years ago in Springfield, Vt., testified on Thursday that he was acting in self-defense.

Gregory Smith told jurors that Wesley Wing attacked him through the window of his car, hitting him in the face and pushing his head into the steering wheel, which cut off his breathing.

“I was scared and I wasn’t sure what was going on,” Gregory Smith testified. “I drew (my pistol) and pushed him up at the same time and started to fire.”

Smith, 32, testified that he wasn’t sure at the time if any of the shots he fired actually hit Wing on April 18, 2015, near the intersection of South Street and Cheryl Lane.

The 37-year-old Wing then “turned and ran” toward Jake’s Market, and Smith panicked and drove back to his apartment on Lark Lane before traveling to a residence in Keene, N.H., according to his testimony.

Smith, who grew up in Chester, Vt., and attended schools in Bellows Falls, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Prosecutors contend Smith shot Wing, who died a short time later, in what amounted to an “execution” following an argument between Wing and Smith’s girlfriend, Wendy Morris. The argument stemmed from alleged drug activity in their neighborhood near Springfield High School, according to a police affidavit.

The defense rested its case on Thursday in Windsor Superior Court.

Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle pressed Smith on his version of events during cross-examination on Thursday.

Doyle asked Smith why he didn’t go to police after the shooting, why he took apart the gun he used and threw it out the car window, and why he switched cars in Keene before fleeing to South Londonderry, Vt., where he was apprehended by police five days later.

During defense questioning, Smith testified that he was at his residence on Lark Lane when Morris arrived agitated. She left before the pair had a chance to discuss what was going on, so Smith got into his car and caught up with Morris, who was in her vehicle on Cardinal Drive.

Smith testified that Morris told him that “some (expletive) just got in her face,” but she didn’t go into details.

After that exchange, Smith said, he drove north on South Street to “make sure that everything was fine” but said he “didn’t see anybody that was causing any problems.”

So, he turned around in the Jake’s Market parking lot and headed back south, which is when he said a man walked out of the tree line and toward the road, prompting Smith to stop his vehicle, according to his testimony.

“I said, ‘Hey, were you just yelling at my girl?’ ” Smith testified. “He said, ‘Yeah, so what?’ ... he was being threatening.”

Smith testified that he motioned to the man — Wing — that he would turn around, and Smith pulled onto Cheryl Lane in front of Wing, who was walking north.

Wing was about 9 feet from Smith’s car at that point, according to Smith. Wing’s distance from the car when Smith shot him has been a key point of contention during the trial. Smith’s attorneys say eyewitnesses have offered conflicting accounts.

Smith told the court that he couldn’t get his door open and before he knew it Wing was “already inside the car.”

Smith testified that Wing hit him at least twice in the left side of his face, including in his mouth and temple areas, and pushed his head against the steering wheel.

Smith pulled an already loaded handgun from a holster at his right side while simultaneously pushing Wing toward the headliner of the vehicle, he testified.

“I just reacted,” Smith said. “I started firing.”

He added throughout his testimony: “It happened really fast.”

Smith testified that when Wing left the scene, he panicked and returned to his apartment to grab his cellphone and some drugs before quickly heading to Keene.

Smith broke down at one point when discussing the aftermath of the shooting.

“I was worried about the rest of my life,” Smith said, adding that he thought no one would believe his version of events.

Smith testified that he didn’t go to police because he was actively using heroin and was scared. He said he fled for similar reasons.

On his way to Keene, he disassembled the firearm and threw it and the holster out the window for fear that he could be involved in another “altercation,” he said.

“It wasn’t because you didn’t want to have that gun as evidence?” asked Doyle, the prosecutor.

“No,” Smith replied.

Once in Keene, Smith asked Rebecca Russ, a woman living at the residence he visited, to lie about his whereabouts on April 18, 2015, according to Russ’ testimony earlier this week.

Smith testified that he didn’t know why he said that.

Smith said that he drove a different car back to Vermont because he “didn’t want anymore altercations with anybody.” He testified that he fled to the remote camp in South Londonderry, Vt., because it was a place he would feel safe.

He also could start detoxing there, he testified, saying he planned to go to police to speak with them about what happened, but he “needed to get in better shape.”

Smith testified that he had a fat lip, a scratch on his cheek and a bruise or red mark near his eye after the incident. Some witnesses cast doubt on those injuries, while others recalled similar markings.

Prosecutors said in court on Thursday that Smith has twice been convicted of lying to police officers. Smith has an extensive criminal record, according to documents filed in the White River Junction courthouse.

“ ... You want the jury today to believe that what you said happened,” Doyle said.

“I am here to be honest and tell the truth,” Smith replied.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. on Monday with closing arguments.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.