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Vermont man gets 13- to 15-years in fatal Springfield shooting

  • Sheila Wing hugs her daughter after reading her victim's impact statement during the sentencing of Gregory Smith in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on May 22, 2019. Smith, was found guilty by a jury of voluntary manslaughter in February 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Gregory Smith, who was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in February 2018 in the killing of Wesley Wing in Springfield, Vt., speaks during his sentencing in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on May 22, 2019. Smith's attorney, Jordana Levine, stands beside him. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Wesley Wing's mother, Terry Wing, holds a photo of her son, Wesley Wing, with his newborn son during a break in the sentencing of Gregory Smith in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on May 22, 2019. Smith was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Wesley Wing's death in February 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Windsor Superior Court judge on Wednesday sentenced Gregory Smith to 13 to 15 years in prison for the fatal shooting four years ago of a Springfield, Vt., father who was upset about suspected drug dealing in the neighborhood.

Smith, now 34, shot and killed Wesley Wing, 37, in broad daylight on a residential street near Springfield High School on April 18, 2015.

Wing’s loved ones described in court on Wednesday the lasting impact of his death.

“Mr. Smith took my husband’s life that day, and he destroyed our entire family when he did,” Wing’s widow, Sheila Wing said through tears. “Losing Wes this way will forever alter our brain chemistry.”

The tragedy for the family was compounded three months after Wing was killed when one of his daughters died by suicide.

Wing’s eldest daughter, Brooke, described her sister’s plight in her victim impact statement.

“She couldn’t handle the misery,” Brooke Wing wrote in her statement, which was read by a victim’s advocate. “She would be 19 today.”

Wing’s mother, Terry Wing, said she has been trying to make sense of the shooting, which took place following an argument between her son and Smith’s girlfriend, Wendy Morris.

“His life was taken over words,” she said. “I am a shell of who I once was. ... My heart is broken.”

She recalled her son as a “kind, gentle, loving (and) hardworking man,” who was “a great provider for his family.” Wing was a father to four.

Smith, who was found guilty by a jury of voluntary manslaughter in February 2018, also spoke in court on Wednesday. He apologized to the Wing family for his actions.

“I’m sorry to the Wing family and to everybody I’ve affected in the community,” Smith said. “There is nothing I can say that is going to change what happened four years ago in April.”

He said the shooting “shouldn’t have happened.”

“I made a mistake,” Smith said. “I blame it on my drug use.”

Smith, who initially faced a second-degree murder charge, has already served more than four years of his sentence, so he could be eligible for release as early as 2028.

Assistant Attorney General Ultan Doyle, who prosecuted the case, argued for Smith to serve the maximum length possible for the manslaughter conviction, which is 15 years.

Judge Timothy Tomasi opted for a sentence that conformed more closely with the one Smith’s attorney, Jordana Levine, sought. Levine, who didn’t outline a specific sentence length, argued for a configuration that would allow Smith to have supervision while he transitions back into the community after his release as opposed to being released without that possibility.

While Doyle told the judge he doesn’t think Smith can turn his life around and be a productive member of society, Levine and Tomasi disagreed, with Tomasi saying he doesn’t share the view that Smith is “beyond redemption.”

Even then Smith’s crime warranted a “lengthy sentence,” Tomasi said, adding that he balanced punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation while crafting it.

Although Smith has an extensive criminal record, including more than a half dozen felonies and two dozen misdemeanors, most are from his teenage years, the judge said.

By finding Smith guilty of voluntary manslaughter and not second-degree murder, the jury found he fired the gun “under extenuating circumstances,” which mitigated his behavior but did not justify it, Tomasi said.

“He certainly could have done other things,” Tomasi said.

Officials put together a pre-sentencing investigation report prior to Wednesday’s sentencing, and the report stated that Smith has a high risk for recidivism and is part of a group where “60 percent of people return to prison within the first year of being released.”

That made Levine’s sentence even more appropriate, she said prior to Tomasi’s ruling.

“Mr. Smith is going to be a part of our community, it just depends on when and is it going to be with accountability, supervision and treatment, or is it going to be with nothing,” Levine said.

Smith has the right to appeal.

Throughout Smith’s six-day trial last year, he contended he acted in self-defense when he fired five shots at Wing at the intersection of Cheryl Lane and South Street in Springfield, Vt., following the argument, which police said started over drugs in the neighborhood. But prosecutors claimed Smith shot Wing in an “execution” style following the argument.

Prosecutors also said Smith went to great lengths to cover up his tracks, including throwing the firearm out the window of his car and fleeing to a remote campsite in South Londonderry, Vt., where he evaded capture for five days.

More than a dozen of Smith’s friends and family were in the gallery on Wednesday.

After the hearing, Sheila Wing said the trial process coming to an end has provided the family with some closure. However, nothing will ever fully ease the family’s pain, she said.

“We will always miss him and love him,” she said. “We will just have to remember our memories. He’ll live on through our stories and pictures and videos.”

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

 Correction

Judge Timothy Tomasi found Gregory Smith fired the gun “under  extenuating circumstances,” which mitigated his behavior but did not justify it. Attorney Jordana Levine represented Smith. An earlier version of this story misstated who fired the gun that killed Wesley Wing and a photo caption misstated who Levine was representing.