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Defendant in Springfield, Vt., Murder Trial Claims Self-Defense in Opening Statements

  • Gregory Smith, who allegedly shot and killed 37-year-old Wesley Wing near Jake’s Market on South Street in Springfield, sits in the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 5, 2018. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Gregory A. Smith. (Vermont State Police photograph)

  • Sheila Wing, the widow of Wesley Wing, testifies in the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 5, 2018. Gregory Smith allegedly shot and killed Wing near Jake’s Market on South Street in Springfield in April 2015 after Wing and Smith’s girlfriend got into a verbal altercation about her alleged drug use in the neighborhood. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jordana Levine, attorney for Gregory Smith, speaks during the opening statements portion on the first day of the trial involving Smith, who allegedly shot and killed 37-year-old Wesley Wing, in the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 5, 2018. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Judge Timothy Tomasi listens to attorney Adam Korn during the opening statements portion of the trial against Gregory Smith, who allegedly shot and killed 37-year-old Wing near Jake’s Market on South Street in Springfield, in the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 5, 2018. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sheila Wing, the widow of Wesley Wing, right, is comforted after testifying in the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Feb. 5, 2018. Gregory A. Smith allegedly shot and killed 37-year-old Wing near Jake’s Market on South Street in Springfield in April 2015 after Wing and Smith’s girlfriend got into a verbal altercation about her alleged drug use in the neighborhood. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Wing



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, February 05, 2018

White River Junction — Authorities have characterized the 2015 shooting death of 37-year-old Wesley Wing as an “execution” stemming from a dispute over illegal drug activity.

Meanwhile, attorneys for 32-year-old Gregory Smith, whose trial opened on Monday in Windsor Superior Court, insist he acted in self-defense when he killed Wing.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. The defense does not deny that Smith shot Wing, but the details of their altercation are in dispute.

“This wasn’t a self-defense situation,” Assistant Attorney General Adam Korn told the jury on Monday during opening statements. “There was no life threat. There was no harm. …This was not a fight that escalated from shouting to punching to choking. This was an execution.”

The events in question began to unfold shortly before 6 p.m. on April 18, 2015, when Wing arrived at his home on Cardinal Drive, a short, dead-end road in a neighborhood of about 20 houses off of South Street.

Wing’s widow, Sheila Wing, testified on Monday that her husband, who she acknowledged had been drinking that day, began to prepare dinner and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. It was at that point that Wesley Wing and Smith’s girlfriend, Wendy Morris, who also lived in the neighborhood, began to argue, Sheila Wing said.

The nature of the argument wasn’t detailed in court on Monday, but according to a police affidavit filed in connection with the case, the altercation was over Morris’ alleged involvement in illegal drug activity.

Morris was seated in her vehicle at the time, and the pair argued for a few minutes before breaking off the conversation, Sheila Wing testified. Wesley Wing then left home and walked north on South Street toward Jake’s Market.

Shortly after, Sheila Wing testified, she saw Morris’ vehicle and a separate sedan driven by Smith pull up alongside each other in the neighborhood. They appeared to have a conversation, Wing said, and Smith then sped off in pursuit of her husband.

She testified that she could not see the shooting from her vantage point.

Prosecutors contend Smith pulled his car alongside Wing, who was on foot on South Street, and the two began to argue. Smith then continued north, turned around in the Jake’s Market parking lot and drove past Wing twice more before pulling onto Cheryl Lane, cutting off Wing’s path of travel.

What happened next was the subject of hours of attorneys’ statements and witness testimony on Monday.

Korn, one of the prosecutors, said the information presented over the two-week trial will show that Wing was 4 to 10 feet from Smith’s car when Smith pulled out a .40 caliber handgun and fired five shots.

“Not one shot in self-defense, not two or three, but five,” Korn said.

Joseph Alily, who lived near South Street, testified that he was unloading groceries when he saw the two men arguing, with Wing on foot and Smith driving slowly near him.

Alily first testified that Wing was about 10 feet from the car when the shots rang out, but public defender Brian Marsicovetere pressed Alily on that distance, saying it contradicted prior statements Alily made.

Alily wavered when asked where Wing’s hands were when he walked toward Smith’s now parked car on Cheryl Lane. But Alily denied seeing any physical contact between Wing and Smith.

“If there had been, would you have been in a position to be able to see it?” Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle asked Alily.

“Yes,” he replied.

That testimony, as well as the prosecution’s statements, was in contrast to the defense’s version of events. During her opening statements, public defender Jordana Levine told jurors that Wing approached Smith’s window while pounding on his chest and unzipping his jacket, and punched Smith in the face before pushing his head into the steering wheel.

“He panicked and he reacted,” Levine said of Smith. “... There was a gun in the car, and he grabbed it and he fired.”

Wing continued to pursue Smith after the first shots, according to Levine, so Smith continued firing.

Smith fled the scene and even the state, traveling to Keene, N.H., before driving to South Londonderry, Vt.

Police located Smith and Morris in a camper there five days after the shooting.

Levine made clear from the outset that there is a drug component to the case, saying many people involved have been affected by addiction.

“He didn’t think anyone would believe him,” Levine said. “He knew he needed heroin and he was terrified.”

Also in her opening statement, Levine suggested jurors will hear from Smith during the trial.

“There is only one person that you are going to hear from that was on Cheryl Lane that day. And that’s Greg,” she said. “He will describe for you what happened and how fast all of it happened.”

After being shot multiple times, Wing managed to walk to the nearby Jake’s Market. Surveillance tapes from the store show Wing staggering toward the front door, opening it and collapsing just inside the entryway.

Those recordings were shown several times in court on Monday, and each time, Wing’s family members reacted with quiet sobs.

Three people who were at Jake’s Market that day also testified on Monday.

Jeffrey Perkins testified that he saw Smith turn around in the store’s parking lot “at a pretty high rate of speed.”

Stacy Naumann, who called 911 after the shooting, said that on her way to the convenience store she saw two men on South Street who appeared to be arguing. As soon as she got out of her car in the parking lot of Jake’s Market, she said, she heard five gunshots. Moments later, Wing came through the front door.

Working at Jake’s Market that day was Kimberly Sala, who grabbed gloves and towels to aid Wing until paramedics could arrive.

“He kept saying he didn’t want to die, that he was in pain and that it hurt,” Sala said from the stand. “I told him he wasn’t going to die and that everything would be fine.”

The trial is scheduled to resume this morning at 9 a.m. at the White River Junction courthouse.

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